Richard III: A Theatrical Review
The Southern California Shakespeare Festival is currently presenting Richard III starring and directed by Lisa Wolpe. Currently playing at the Studio Theatre on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona at 3801 W. Temple Ave, Building 25 in Pomona, CA 91768, this production runs Saturdays at 8PM and Sundays at 2PM through October 2, 2011. Admission is only $15 and reservations can be made by calling 909-869-3900, or logging onto the web at http://www.class.csupomona.edu/th/oldsite/scsf.
This production is interesting and well done in many arenas. The fact that the leading role is being played by a woman does not affect anything with the productions success. Perhaps some of the other male roles being played by women and at least one female role being played by a woman does distract from the overall authenticity of the production, but in and of itself is not the problem with this show. The sad fact of the difficulty this production is enduring is the fact that Lisa Wolpe, apparently truly in love with the script itself, is entirely too talented and capable. The rest of the cast simply cannot match her abilities, and as a result this almost seems like a one woman show. Perhaps the only other problem would be the fact that this production, which calls for a massive cast, finds way too comfortable a choice in having multiple characters play multiple roles. Where, as a director myself, I know that this is often a requirement of a production, it steals all the authenticity of the script to have a character die in one scene, and then return as one or more characters in the very next scene. The audience was obviously confused, and as a result, much of the productions actual story line was lost. Not to mention the fact that whomever edited the production for this stage stole far too much of the script, causing key lines to be missing, and thus a number of questions left for the audience that are never answered.
All in all, had this been a high school production, I would not have been surprised or disappointed. Because it is on the campus of a college, I am being highly lenient, but overall, I was disappointed in this production. If you as a theatre attendee have never seen this production, you will not know the frustration that I did. Having done a number of Shakespearean pieces myself in my theatrical career as an actor/director/and producer, I simply have a more defining and particular eye.
California Theatre Critic