Think the Bard has gotten monotonous after 400 years? This weekend Basement Arts steps up to offer a fresh look at the Shakespearian tragedy. From Thursday to Saturday, the group will be offering four free performances of “Richard III” at the Arena Theatre, located in the Frieze Building.
Richard III (Brad Frazier) is a villain. With a gimp leg, a hunchback and a conniving personality, he is also an interesting character. The play details his effort to take over the English throne, a pursuit successful only if Richard eliminates his fellow family members.
Unlike traditional Shakespearian stories, “Richard III” features a protagonist that is both a hero and a villain. Lead actor Brad Frazier, explains the complexity of Richard by saying, “He could be played as dark and sinister, but he’s a showman; he puts on a good show and he’s a very good actor.” The audience is seduced into enjoying Richard and his suspiciousness throughout the soliloquies and private addresses his offers to onlookers.
The play gives the audience a chance to interact with the characters, and as Frazier says, “My favorite parts are the connections between Richard and the audience.”
In a further attempt to help the audience connect to the story, director Megan Marod has designed the show in a very unique fashion. In her version, the political struggles of the show are played out on a chessboard with the actors representing the particular pieces of the game that suit their characters. This imaginative approach should make the technicalities of Richard’s hierarchal advances visual and so help the audience to understand exactly who has the advantage and when.
As if displaying the game behind the play was not enough creative ingenuity, Marod explains how the play “is set in a matrix-like world suggestive of Elizabethan times.” This includes adorning Richard in black leather. Also, Marod hints at her attempts for some laughs. “We’re looking to make it more humorous,” she says.
With an abundance of interesting twists to this timeless Shakespearian play, Basement Arts, with its talented cast and unique performance, will certainly provide an entertaining evening.