Long live the King

Outdoor Richard III rules campus

Richard III (Tyler Murree) pleads before Lady Anne (Carly Jones) at the foot of her husband’s corpse.
Image by: Kristina Uffe
Richard III (Tyler Murree) pleads before Lady Anne (Carly Jones) at the foot of her husband’s corpse.

Do not be alarmed if you spot people in renaissance costume running around campus over the next two weeks. They are not insane, merely very talented.

The Queen’s Drama Department, in co-production with Beyond Chutleigh Productions, is presenting William Shakespeare’s Richard III, a historic tale of the bloody battle for England’s throne masterminded by one of the most diabolical characters in British theatre.

The reason the actors can be seen darting about campus is because the play is set at various Queen’s locations outdoors. This unique production is the brainchild of director Brad Lepp III, who has been planning for a year in order to make his vision a reality. An “Elizabethan guide”/priest, played by the witty Graeme Stewart, leads you around campus between scenes. It’s hard to believe no one has thought of doing this type of performance before. Queen’s offers many beautiful, theatrical settings that any set designer would kill for. Various locations include behind Douglas Library, the steps of Summerhill, the courtyard in front of JDUC, and the only indoor locale, Wallace Hall in the JDUC. Fall at Queen’s is always beautiful, but it is especially put on display during this play.

Shakespearean language is hard enough to decipher while reading, but having to memorize it must be a difficult task indeed. The cast all handled their lines with depth and skill, considering they have only been rehearsing for two and a half weeks. The stellar performance by Tyler Murree as the manipulative Richard is an achievement that deserves mention. His facial expressions conveyed every devious thought, and his powerful voice was always clear, an uneasy feat at times for the entire cast. Having to speak over birds and cars, it was sometimes hard to hear, but the cast continued despite outside distractions. Also turning out noteworthy performances were Esther Barlow as the proud, sorrowful Queen Elizabeth, and Turi Mercuri as Buckingham, Richard’s evil cohort and cousin who learns which side is right.

Even if you think you don’t like Shakespeare, this play should be seen for its aesthetic value and strong performances. The venues put the play, and Queen’s campus, into new perspective. And for those of you who like battle scenes, there is one that will definitely satisfy.

So grab your mittens, go to the bathroom (trust me), follow the man with the big stick, and take in this great, innovative production.

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