“Richard III” at IndyFringe Basile Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

First Folio Productions and Catalyst Repertory have combined forces to present the epic drama Richard III at the IndyFringe Basile Theatre.

Shakespeare’s tragic play offers up one of his most intriguing characters in Gloucester/Richard, the physically flawed, and notoriously hateful villain, who murdered all who stood between him and the throne of England. Skillfully adapted by Ben Power, Casey Ross and director Glenn Dobbs – the production begins with the 2012 discovery of Richard’s remains in a Leicester, England parking lot. This scene melds into Gloucester’s opening monologue, “Now is the winter of our discontent…” and we are off.

What follows is a compelling account of the King Richard III saga, augmented by Linda Schornhorst’s lush costume designs, a rich soundtrack designed by Brian G. Hartz, and fight choreography by Scott Russell, all on the simple set designed by Fred Margison and Andy Burnett.

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Matt Anderson as Richard in First Folio and Catalyst Repertory’s production of “Richard III”.

Matt Anderson is thoroughly masterful as Richard. He truly becomes the fated scoundrel in what is a very physical and methodical portrayal. Anderson leaves no doubt that this is a damaged man, his extreme awkwardness only amplifying his focused desire to achieve the throne. Richard’s words drip with desire and hatefulness, and his body reveals the pain of his being. The supporting cast has a great advantage by being able to react to the seething performance Anderson renders.

Carey Shea plays the dual roles of Richard’s brother Clarence and his opponent Richmond. Both are offered with confident, spot-on depictions. Allison Clark Reddick gives a stirring performance as the widow of Richard’s brother – Queen Elizabeth. Her sorrow at the tragedies in her character’s life is immense yet varied enough to be compelling and genuine. Matthew Socey is effective as the weakened husband of the queen, King Edward IV; Christina Howard is sad and lovely as the stricken Lady Anne; and Nan Macy projects her role as Richard’s mother, Duchess of York, with great authority.

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Matt Anderson (Richard), Allison Clark Reddick (Elizabeth), and Nan Macy (Duchess of York) in First Folio and Catalyst Repertory’s production of “Richard III” .

The various assignments given Jay Hemphill (Buckingham), Casey Ross (Queen Margaret), Doug Powers (Rivers/Sir Urswisk), Kevin Caraher (Hastings), and Ryan Reddick (Stanley),  plus John Mortell, Mark Cashwell and Mike Varick (each in various roles) are all well met. Also, Dalyn Stewart and Lex Lumpkin both do themselves honor with their portrayals of Richard’s young nephews, Prince Edward and Duke of York.

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Kevin Caraher (Lord Hastings), Matthew Socey (King Edward IV), and Allison Clark Reddick (Queen Elizabeth) in First Folio and Catalyst Repertory’s production of “Richard III” .

This is a strong presentation, filled with well-developed performances. Most everything that has been pieced together for the production emphatically meets the goal of conveying this complicated story to the minds of the audience in an understandable and potent way.

My only negative comment for this impressive show is that the background sound track, while well-chosen and effective in its result, was at times too intense in volume, keeping me from fully understanding the players. I think this could easily be corrected – as I believe the most important part of theatre is the actors’ conveyance to an audience.

Bottomline: Shakespeare fans, and indeed anyone who loves good theatre, will want to attend this high level Richard III. Director Glenn Dobbs has gained an impressive reputation with his well-researched, high quality productions of the bard’s works. This one is not to be missed.

Richard III continues weekends at the IndyFringe Basile Theatre near Mass Ave through July 9th. You can get information about the shows, and purchase tickets, by going to http://www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/richard-111 .

  • – photos by Gary Nelson

 

CRP’s “Tooth of Crime” at Grove Haus

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reviewed by Adam Crowe

Maybe you have never seen a play directed by Casey Ross. The Artistic Director for Catalyst Repertory Productions (formerly Casey Ross Productions) has been producing well received play for the last few years on small budgets and in locations other than the “usual theaters”.   One such location is The Grove Haus, an artists’ collective located South of Downtown Indianapolis. On Friday February 10, the Grove Haus hosted opening night of Tooth of Crime by Sam Shepard. Originally produced in London in 1972, The Tooth of Crime is a musical play. A revised version of the play was presented in 1996, with new music by T-Bone Burnett and it is this version that Casey Ross and Company are presenting at The Grove Haus.

Complex. Demanding. These are the best words I can find to describe this production. The play itself demands a lot – from its two main actors, and also from its audience. Shepard has created a very specific world, set sometime in an American future, where the inhabitants still speak English, but with elaborate and unusual slang. It takes several minutes (or more) for an audience to adjust their ears and begin to follow what the actors are talking about. Shepard’s setting suggests an elaborate contest being played by his characters, under the gaze of some sort of overlords or “Keepers”. What that contest entails slowly becomes clearer – somewhat.

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From left: Adam Tran as Crow confronts Davey Pelsue as Hoss in CRP’s production of “Tooth of Crime”.

Hoss, played by Davey Pelsue, is our Hero. He is at the top of his “game” and must constantly track the rise of challengers. The latest such foe finally makes his appearance in Act II – in the guise of Adam Tran’s Crow. As I have said before, I try not to detail a play’s entire plot as I don’t wish to spoil the journey. In this instance, such explanation would be a bit pointless, as the ostensible plot is less important than the rapid fire of ideas, spoken and sung. Both lead actors are fierce and their performances are terrific. Playing an assortment of supporting characters, the cast includes Jay Hemphill, Sarah Hoffman, Zach Stonerock, Nan Macy, Ryan Powell and David Malloy. And as it is a musical play – the house band includes Christopher McNeely, Chris Burton, Kris Mainer, Ben Eads, David Rosenfield, Andy Strum, and Craig Burton. Other than some occasional volume issues, the band is great.

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“Tooth of Crime” set: designed by Andrew Darr

Should you go? I will say this – if you want to be an audience member who sits and lets the play wash over you, this might not be the show for you. Complex and demanding, remember? Tooth of Crime requires full investment from its audience. If you are looking for a theatrical experience – something you will find nowhere else – This IS for you. Seating is limited, so get tickets sooner rather than later.

The Grove Haus is located at 1001 Hosbrook Street in the Fountain Square neighborhood.

Tickets for Tooth of Crime may be purchased by visiting http://www.Brownpapertickets.com. The play runs February 10th – 26th. Friday and Saturday curtain at 8 pm. Sunday’s curtain is at 5 PM. Tickets are $20.