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Richard III

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Our college just put on Richard III. As one of my former College Success students was in the play, we made sure to make it out one night to see it.

I would have normally wanted to see it anyway as I try to support all the college shows, I'm a fan of plays in general, and I always love it when the college performs Shakespeare, but I had hesitations this week. It was a busy week and on top of that I was feeling very run down. Considering Richard III is so serious and dark, had she not have been in the play I would have begged off and skipped this one. I'm so glad I didn't!

The play was good!!! I was surprised I liked it as much as I did because it’s really complicated, not very funny, and mostly historical. I confess, I'm more of a fan of his comedies. But even if I had hated the play, I was in awe of how they handled the set and the costumes. The set was minimalist and transformable, so between scenes the actors would pick up the gray rectangular pieces and arrange them into chairs, beds, castle walls, tables, or whatever was needed. They advertised it as being set in the future, and I was very curious as to how they would accomplish that. It was brilliant. It was a hologram put on by the Holographic Museum of London! They even had recognition of fake companies that funded the production. To add to the effect, they put up screens on either side of the little theatre where they broadcast pictures, biographies, and summaries of what was happening during the cut scenes (they cut a lot of scenes for time purposes) while a computerized voice did narration. During the actual acting they had funky electronic music playing that occasionally sounded like FTL news feeds and static, which gave it a cool BSG communications between ships sort of feel. Sometimes the music was a little too loud, but most of the time it created a weird effect of actually feeling like you were in the year 2083 (or whatever) watching a holographic presentation by their equivalent of the History channel. Actually, have you ever played the computer game Alchemy? The music was kind of like that – offsetting, but not unpleasant. The screens sometimes showed modern day scenes of war and flickered creepily (in an apocalyptic sort of way). Whenever they turned on or turned off the hologram (show start, intermission, show end) they had flickering lights and an almost TARDIS sound. I think at one point they said to keep your arms and legs inside during transmission. They also took advantage of the screens during Richard and Richmond's dream scene - the "haunting" took place via a video they played of all those murdered by Richard. The video was rather disturbing with they way they lit it and edited it. It would have given me nightmares, too.

In addition to the amazing set, the costumes were brilliant. The Fine Arts department always does amazing costumes. I think he used to be a professional out in Hollywood or something and just retired to the area. Another benefit of living near beautiful beaches, I suppose. Draws cool people in their retirement. Anyway, costumes... The soldiers looked like they were wearing SG1 uniforms and they carried guns!!! That was awesome. The main characters were all in black or grey or dark color suits and dresses unless they were clergy. Clergy wore bright white. Richard III had a cyborg arm with green glowing cables. It helped with the "futuristic" feel, as well. I thought of Neophyte a lot during the play! I wish I had pictures of the costumes to share; they really were impressive.

The acting was very good, especially Michelle (she was one of the best!!). There were a few that were hard to hear or seemed to go in and out of character, but for the most part I was really pleased. Monkeys talked about Clint's performance as Richard for days afterwards.

They did not mess with Shakespeare's words, other than editing out portions. So the beauty and word skill was there. And, thankfully, there were a few funny lines to lift your mood in an otherwise sober and bloody story. I bought a copy of Richard III Shakespeare No Fear to better understand what I saw.

Oh, and a wonderful accident of the night - magnet5 and his friend happened to be attending that night, so we got to sit with them! Perfect!

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