Richard III

He assumed office through treachery, spouting patriotic and religious platitudes all the while. He created the illusion that terrorists, both foreign and domestic threatened the state, though he created and abetted these plots. For a time, he remained immensely popular, the citizenry believing what they were told. Eventually, one of the greatest historical dramas was written about him. What sinister leader are we talking about? If you answered Bush II, you're wrong, but only because his tragedy hasn't played itself out and no one has written a play about him. The answer is actually Richard III.

If ever there were a model of Machiavelli's Prince, Richard is it, murdering kings, brothers, and anyone else who stood between him and the throne. And while the playwright, who went by the nom de plume of Shakes-speare, may have embellished Richard's moral paucity, the effect is a character whose evil nature is unrivalled.

Chip Persons as Richard III Photo Credit: Lou Costy
Chip Persons as Richard III
Photo Credit: Lou Costy
For the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's current production, director James M. Symons thankfully chose Chip Persons for the title role. Persons, who played Richard in last year's production of Queen Margaret (a compilation of the Henry VI trilogy), masterfully mixes charm, duplicity, chutzpah, and rage to create a character so cunning, we are left with no doubts that he could pull off the outrageous acts necessary to accomplish what he did.

Sheryle Wells as Lady Anne
Chip Persons as Richard III
Photo Credit: Lou Costy
Persons' convincing performance is made all the more impressive by the quality of his opposition and the ease with which he confounds them. Sheryle Wells, as Lady Anne, goes from righteous revulsion at Richard's slaying of her father-in-law (King Edward IV) to confusion and ultimately beguilement as she is wooed by this silver tongued serpent. Sarah Lauren Fallon gives us a gritty, determined Elizabeth, who survives her husband's (King Edward IV) assassination and outlasts Richard. Elizabeth Tanner, as Margaret, widow of King Henry VI (Edward's predecessor), is impressive as the only royal that matches Richard's linguistic command, scaling the heights with her vituperative condemnations of his depraved plots. And,
Chip Persons as Richard III
David MacInnis as Richmond
Photo Credit: Lou Costy
as he did with Macduff in Macbeth, David MacInnis is stately and determined as he redeems the kingdom with his Henry, Earl of Richmond, ending the War of the Roses by slaying Richard and marrying Elizabeth.

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Richard III runs in repertory with Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Shakespeare in Briefs through August 16th. 303-492-0554.

Bob Bows


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