By Alex Baldino
Shakespeare ’70, Mercer County’s classical theater group, in association with the College, brought Shakespeare’s “Rickard III” to the Don Evans Black Box Theater from Oct. 16 to 20.
The play, written around the late 16th century, is one of Shakespeare’s most well known historical works. It revolves around the reign of King Richard III of England. King Richard seized the throne after the death of King Edward IV, the murder of his brother Clarence and the execution of King Edward’s two young sons.
After executing his wife and other noblemen, his reign is cut short when Henry Tudor, Earl Of Richmond, starts a revolution and kills him in battle.
It’s hard to avoid Shakespeare in English class. Students are forced to read what should be acted, losing a crucial aspect of his work. If performed poorly, “Richard III” could easily become a boring history class, condemning the audience to snoring the three hours away. Performed well, the audience can find themselves laughing at jokes about medieval English society that they don’t even truly understand.
Despite each member having to play multiple characters, the cast delivered a distinct and creative approach to the story. Their solution to the lack of actors was to suspend crates from the ceiling, fill them with bits of a costume like sunglasses or a scarf and label them with the character’s name. With the characters donning their costumes in front of everyone, it was hard to be confused. At times, the cast even joined the crowd, sitting amongst them and clapping to a speech another character was giving.
Even when Jake Burbage, who played both Richard III and Henry Tudor (Richmond), had to switch between his two characters in the same scene, the audience knew which one he was supposed to be.
Morgan Petronis, a College graduate student studying special education, provided a notable performance playing both the intelligent and strong-willed Queen Elizabeth and the gullible Lord Mayor Of London.
But it was Burbage, known for his role in the early 2000’s sitcom “Grounded for Life” as Henry Finnerty, who stole the show.
In the climax of the play, Burbage had to fight himself, acting for one second as Richard III and another as Richmond. His acting left an impression on students, who, after leaving the theater, were loudly proclaiming the intensity and hilarity of the scene. Overall, the crowd, made up of mostly an older audience, enjoyed the entire play from start to finish.