William Shakespeare’s Richard III was written around the year 1592 and it has been performed on stage, screen and TV hundreds of times. But here in North Hollywood at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre you can see a condensed and passionately driven performance of this classic. (Technically it is the second longest play written in the Shakespeare canon right behind Hamlet, but here it's nicely condensed to about an hour.)
Artfully directed by Denise Devin, she takes all the humor, action and the ascension of Richard to the thrown through cunning, deceit and murder. Denise also did a wonderful job of cutting the play down to about an hour while keeping the story intact. It’s W. Lochridge O’Bryan who does a marvelous job of portraying the king who will do anything he can to sit in the throne and rule the kingdom. O’Bryan’s performance is sharp, funny and often maniacal in his delivery of the more popular quotes from the production - a witty performance if I have ever seen one.
Anna Gillcrist does equally wonderful job as Lady Anne (she is also a creepy ghost) who is taunted by Richard for her hand to marry. Anna is a wonderful contrast to O’Bryan and they play their scenes very well together as she tries to handle the horror of death and imminent marriage to a ‘future’ king she does not want.
Kirby Anderson gives a good thrust in his performance as ‘right hand’ man to Richard by playing the Duke of Buckingham (who also does duty as Clarence and a ghost) as does the incredibly sharp and poignant performance of Sarah Fairfax as Queen Elizabeth. Sarah knows how to speak and perform the words of Shakespeare with more than passion but with extreme commitment to the text. She is always a delight to watch.
Now adding much color to the ensemble were the creative, unique and memorable performances of Tyler McAuliff as the character Hastings (and he also plays Richmond) where you can understand the confusion of Richard's commands through his reactions. The whimsical performance of Tina Preston as Margaret (and she also plays sharply the Duchess of York) is fun to watch as is the wide-eyed and energetic performance by Larray Grimes as Catesby (he also doubles as a Cardinal and a murderer). Tyler, Tina and Larray really do add some energy and spice to the ensemble.
Special nod to the straight laced, yet passionate delivery of T.J. Alvarado as Rivers, Ratcliffe and as the Mayor. T.J. does a convincing separation of the characters to keep each of them unique for the audience. Hats off to anyone who keep the personas as unique as T.J. did.
Also part of the ensemble is Josh Imlay who plays a myriad of roles, including Dorset, a young prince, a murderer and a messenger. I do applaud his colorful young prince because it will definitely make you smile more than once. And there is Lee Kissman playing both Lord Stanley and Tyrell.
It was another wonderful night of Shakespeare at Zombie Joe's in North Hollywood, with a much condensed (which makes it accessible for those who may have never seen Shakespeare performed live before) version that will even introduce this classic to the younger audience with a lot of intrigue, violence and murder. It certainly made me want more! Oh, and if you like stage choreography as afar as fight scenes, this one was very well done. I won’t tell you how or what, but it was exciting to see and defiantly ‘real’ as far as stage fighting goes. Go see it, you’ll experience Shakespeare and have a lot of fun too. Check them out at www.ZombieJoes.com.
Pic 001 (L to R) Josh Imlay, Tyler McAuliffe, Tina Preston, Kirby Anderson, Sarah Fairfax, W. Lochridge O' Bryan, Anna Gillcrist, Larray Grimes, Lee Kissman, TJ Alvarado.
Pic 002 W. Lochridge O' Bryan