The Tragedy of King Richard III
A Noise Within: California’s Home for the Classics
“Now is the winter of our discontent /Made glorious summer by this sun of York/And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house,/ In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.” describes perfectly the way actor Steve Weingartner swaggers in, with a limp leg, an awful hunchback and crippled fingers wrapped in a cast. By uttering these beginning lines, he sets the play’s tone and mood. As Richard, Weingartner is manipulative, as he is cunning, sexy and bold and executes his evil deeds with fineness that it’s hard not to believe anything he says.
But that is the caveat. Beware what the man of Gloucester says because it can mean your life. His eloquence makes one forget his true deceitful nature. The scene he has with Lady Anne (Lenne Klingman) reeks of promised love proposal drenched in hypocrisy and false hoods. I mean seriously, what she could see in this limp monste? He had both her husband and father-in-law killed in the War of Roses. Her emotions become a ball of mass confusion as she kisses Richard deeply and fall under his murderous spell. Weingartner does all of this with a smile and purity.
Klingman was wonderful as the quivering Lady Anne. She’s not so innocent or naïve when she takes Richard on as a lover. He uses her in his ladder to success. By marrying Anne, he’s a hair breath away from his ultimate goal — becoming King. Like all Shakespearian tragic classics; The Tragedy of King Richard III is filled with lust, greed, power (both achieving and maintaining it) and above all sadness. Because we the audience know that someone innocent will suffer and the bastard who did it will —temporarily — get away with it. It’s Richard’s hatred and villainy that push the story and emotions, both from the actors and the audience, forward. However, having the past continue to linger doesn’t help his mission.
The past is in the shape of Queen Margaret (the incredible Deborah Strang) widow of King Henry VI. Once she was a beautiful woman, envied for wearing flowing bejeweled gowns and has a soft face that reads power. Now, she’s a crazy old hag that everyone tends to ignore. Margaret remains in living n the castle after the war and roams around the halls spitting out curses of dooms, some directed at Richard. She is from a bygone era that Richard would rather forget. But its Margaret refusal to leave that pushes the hunchback son of York further into a cesspool of blood and guts. Even his soon to be marriage to Lady Anne has a purpose:
“I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long”
Disgusting! Yet we can’t get enough of him and his brutal antics. He needs to be King whether the audience agrees or not. He wants to make it happen, quickly, since his King and brother Edward is near death. His baby cousins are a minor disturbance. They are taken care of immediately without worry.
The Tragedy of King Richard III is one of the most intricate, emotional and mental mind freaks on a stage. All of the actors displayed a lot of passion in their performance. Strang made Margaret look like the crazy old lady who lives up the street—a great job. Weingarten shone beautifully as the crippled bastard out of blood. He’s the man you love to hate even at the end, when he dies, he still as a lot of fight in him when he screams, “A horse, A horse/ My kingdom for a horse.” All very chilling and most importantly it comes off real so the audience can feel what Richard feels as he plots, as a Lady Anne distraught with both her husband and father-in-law’s deaths and Queen Margaret who cannot let go of her glory days. That’s what artistic director Geoff Elliott brought to the first play of the 09/10 season. A definite must-see!
THE TRAGEDY OF KING RICHARD III plays through Dec. 12 at the A Noise Within: California’s Home for the Classics located at 234 S. Brand Blvd, Glendale. For reservations call (818) 240-0910 extension 1 or log on to www.anoisewithin.org