Last Thursday, I headed to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival with a couple of friends to see Richard III. I had heard some months ago that Seana McKenna had asked to play Richard, that he was a character that she had wanted to inhabit for a long time. So it was with great anticipation that we purchased tickets. In the intervening weeks, some failry negative reviews came out in the press that had me second guessing myself.
Well, the play completely blew me out of the water. It was in the Tom Patterson Theatre that has a long thrust stage. It's a smallish space with no poor seats. McKenna was brilliant. Garbed all in black, sporting a hump and wig with long stringy hair over a bald spot, she limped on stage, seething with hatred and mockery of her rivals. It only took a few phrases to dismiss the slight incongruity of her voice which did not sound as if she was lowering it. The play is noteworthy in that Richard shares a lot of commentary with the audience in asides, often adding to, or completely contradicting, information he gives to his court.
A little excerpt:
It was lovely, if overcast, day. We left Toronto around 10 am, had a picnic lunch beside the Avon River before the play at 2:00. Afterwards, we visited the theatre shop and then enjoyed an excellent dinner at Down the Street before heading home.
I'm looking forward to returning to Stratford later this summer to see a few more productions including Jesus Christ Superstar and The Grapes of Wrath. McKenna is also doing a one-woman play called Shakespeare's Will which I hope to catch.