Saturday, August 21, 2010

FRINGE: Richard 3

Let's get this out of the way. Richard 3 is misleadingly billed as a punk rock musical, but most of the music by Mike Fabano does not fit the punk description. Although there is a band onstage, the songs are often sung a cappella. This is not to say that the music, which has a haunting quality, doesn't fit the show, it does, but if I'm promised a punk rock Richard III, I want to see a punk rock Richard III.

James Presson's reimagining of Shakespeare's play takes place after World War III. The show actually owes a greater debt to Spring Awakening than American Idiot, by having characters speak Shakespeare's words and then using modern language when at the microphone. There is not much in the production to suggest a nuclear wasteland, but the look of the show, which is more punk than the music, provided by Marissa Parkes costume design and Rebecca Zoltoski's make-up, is quite polished, as is Cory Asinofsky's fight choreography. The 18-person cast is the largest I've seen at Fringe. Though the young cast is uneven, Jake Ahlquist is a revelation as Richard, capturing the qualities that make him both alluring and frightening.

Tonight was the final scheduled performance, but I suspect we'll see more of this show, either in the Fringe Encore series or another production down the line.

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