×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Richard III

Lisa Wolpe stalks around the stage, sneering like Snidely Whiplash, in the title role of "Richard III." Elina Katsioula's angular set design for the L.A. Women's Shakespeare Company staging is full of spider webs and dark corners, setting up the evil king as the center of the web he spins. It's a conceit that works well in this straightforward, all-female production.

With:
Cast: Lisa Wolpe (Richard III), Denise Crosby (Clarence), Lisa Porter (Duke of Buckingham), Tara Callaghan (Lady Anne), Kimberleigh Aarn (Hastings), Mary Eileen O'Donnell (Stanley), Veralyn Jones (Queen Elizabeth), Willow Hale (King Edward IV), Fran Bennett (Queen Margaret), Jenifer Parker (Duchess of York), Jill Patterson (Anthony Rivers), Linda Bisesti (Catesby), Rebecca Jo Wilson (Bishop of Ely), Gannon Daniels (Richmond, Mistress Shore), Sarah Cathcart (Ratcliffe), Shannon Cleary (Lovell), Jennifer Massey (Tyrrel), Jeanne Sakata (Brakenbury), Rebecca Clark (Dorset), Alicia Wollerton (Grey), Laura Otis (Edward, Prince of Wales), Nassira Nicola (Richard, Duke of York), Carole Waddle (Lord Mayor, Murderer), Colleen Kane (Murderer), Judy Waters (Norfolk), Jessica Payo (Princess Elizabeth).

Lisa Wolpe stalks around the stage, sneering like Snidely Whiplash, in the title role of “Richard III.” Elina Katsioula’s angular set design for the L.A. Women’s Shakespeare Company staging is full of spider webs and dark corners, setting up the evil king as the center of the web he spins. It’s a conceit that works well in this straightforward, all-female production.

Director Maureen Shea makes little effort to hide that all her actors are female: They don’t bind their chests or do much to their hair, nor do they affect beards. Yet one quickly becomes oblivious to the actors’ gender, because the performances are generally fine and convincing regardless of sex.

Shea sets out her mission in the program as an exploration of good and evil , and of our tolerance of evil in our midst, and she mostly attains those goals. “Richard III” also has political implications that are particularly appropriate in an election year. This forthright staging presents clear language and strong interpretations, but misses the subtlety that underlies great Shakespeare.

Popular on Variety

Wolpe is fine as the spinner of intrigues and smooth operator at the center of the play. She conveys both Richard’s evil and his persuasive side; she has a good voice and handles the physical aspects of this “lump of foul deformity” well.

Other standouts are Lisa Porter as the Duke of Buckingham, who delivers her lines with great clarity and insight; Linda Bisesti, making the most of the smallish part of Catesby; Carole Waddle and Colleen Kane, offering a bit of comic relief as the squeaky-voiced Murderers; and Veralyn Jones as the dignified , heartbroken Queen Elizabeth.

Lighting by Teresa R. Enroth is effective; less so costumes by Jeanne Reith, which are inconsistent with the historical period. Composer Shelby Flint and sound designer Peter Stenshoel add an eerie aural atmosphere.

The production is running much longer than the two hours, 25 minutes promised in the program, a problem that needs to be corrected: After more than three hours in the theater’s uncomfortable chairs, half the audience leaves walking like Richard.

Richard III

Gascon Center Theatre, Culver City; 77 seats; $15 top

Production: The Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare's drama in five acts (one intermission); producer, Lisa Wolpe; co-producer, Kelly Clark; director, Maureen Shea; fight choreographer, Jan Bryant.

Creative: Sets, Elina Katsioula; lighting, Teresa R. Enroth; costumes, Jeanne Reith; composer, Shelby Flint; sound design, Peter Stenshoel. Opened March 15, 1996; reviewed March 20; runs through April 14. Running time: 3 hours, 10 minutes.

Cast: Cast: Lisa Wolpe (Richard III), Denise Crosby (Clarence), Lisa Porter (Duke of Buckingham), Tara Callaghan (Lady Anne), Kimberleigh Aarn (Hastings), Mary Eileen O'Donnell (Stanley), Veralyn Jones (Queen Elizabeth), Willow Hale (King Edward IV), Fran Bennett (Queen Margaret), Jenifer Parker (Duchess of York), Jill Patterson (Anthony Rivers), Linda Bisesti (Catesby), Rebecca Jo Wilson (Bishop of Ely), Gannon Daniels (Richmond, Mistress Shore), Sarah Cathcart (Ratcliffe), Shannon Cleary (Lovell), Jennifer Massey (Tyrrel), Jeanne Sakata (Brakenbury), Rebecca Clark (Dorset), Alicia Wollerton (Grey), Laura Otis (Edward, Prince of Wales), Nassira Nicola (Richard, Duke of York), Carole Waddle (Lord Mayor, Murderer), Colleen Kane (Murderer), Judy Waters (Norfolk), Jessica Payo (Princess Elizabeth).

More Legit

  • Lucas Hnath

    Listen: Lucas Hnath's Own Play Gives Him Nightmares

    Tony-nominated playwright Lucas Hnath (“A Doll’s House, Part 2”) has two shows in New York this season: a monologue based on the real-life experiences of his mother, and a ghost story. One of them gave him nightmares — but it wasn’t the ghost story. Listen to this week’s podcast below: He explained why on the [...]

  • Greater Clements review

    'Greater Clements': Theater Review

    The American Dream and all of its values have taken quite a beating lately. Director and screenwriter Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” Bruce Springsteen’s recent “Western Stars” album, even Ralph Lauren in the documentary “Very Ralph” show us how this country and all of its totems and merits have gone asunder. No dreams are more crushed, [...]

  • Harry Connick Jr Walk of Fame

    Harry Connick Jr. on Returning to Broadway

    Harry Connick Jr. is headed back to Broadway with a three-week limited engagement celebration of legendary songwriter Cole Porter. The actor and musician came up with the concept for the show and is also directing. “I love Broadway and if I had two careers one of them would be only Broadway just because I love [...]

  • Jagged Little Pill review

    Broadway Review: 'Jagged Little Pill'

    Nearly 25 years after “Jagged Little Pill” hit the shelves of record stores, Alanis Morissette’s innovative 1995 album has arrived on Broadway under the muscular direction of Diane Paulus, who launched this galvanic production at the American Repertory Theater. The show’s supportive book by screenwriter Diablo Cody interprets Morissette’s musical idiom as a universal domestic [...]

  • Claire Warden

    Listen: Let's Talk About Sex Onstage

    The craft of intimacy direction is taking Broadway by storm — and on the latest episode of Variety’s Stagecraft, Broadway’s first intimacy director explains why, and breaks down the ways in which she’s helping to revolutionize how actors get intimate onstage. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Warden, whose credits this season include “Jagged Little [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content