Will DeVary & Joseph Heberle in Richard III. Photo by Crystal Ludwick.
The Tragedy of King Richard III
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Heather Burns
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2018 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
A good villain is hard to come by. Bad guys are hardly the type of characters you root for but when they suck you in-watch out! At Commonwealth Theater Center’s annual Young Shakespeare Festival, the current installment of Richard III zeros in on the villainous King Richard who manipulates, slaughters and even delights in his bloody pursuits for power over England.
In the titular role, Will DeVary is engaging and downright likable from the very top of the show. His very first utterance: “Now is the winter of our discontent,” prepares his audience of all of the awful things this Duke is about to do and how desperately he wants the throne. DeVary’s performance catapults us into a wide spectrum of emotions fueled by selfishness and greed. His Richard is sneaky and manipulative, then boyishly giddy once he receives the crown, then floundering as he buckles under the pressure of a looming war. Humpbacked, arm bound, and a limp step, this Richard is sure to play upon his own physical deformity while the other players are on stage. These limitations relax once he is alone and addressing his audience: a ruler you can’t trust but find yourself rooting for all the same.
What good is a villain without some victims and adversaries to get in his way? The supporting cast reacts with revenge plots, hate, scorn and grief at the highest decibel. I have to hand it to Cecily Warren, Zoe Peterson, Shannon Bradley, and Samantha Bliss as the royal women affected by Richard’s treacherous rise to power. These young performers bring emotional prowess, strength, and confidence as queens and ladies of the court sharing a scene of mourning in the second act. Warren’s Lady Anne is fierce with inner struggle as she falls prey to Richard’s manipulation into marriage. Peterson delivers a highly emotional performance that nearly reaches a boiling point.
Richard’s accomplices suffer as well. Joseph Heberle’s Duke of Buckingham suffers the most with blind compassion and faithfulness. Steadfast and loyal to the king as he climbs to power, Heberle brings naiveté to a supporter who learns the truth way too late. Taylor Broder’s Catesby is a thuggish brute who mindlessly follows Richard’s orders while Nicole Shariat’s Hastings is tragically disposed of in the midst of Richard’s chaotic rise to the top. Oliver Cox as George, Richard’s brother, and first victim sets the mood for the death and destruction to follow as he begs for mercy and his life.
Shakespeare might have written a lot of good sonnets about love and memorable lines (one, in particular, is in this play – “My kingdom for a horse!”) but his villains are the best. A good anti-hero brings the best drama and, honestly, the best stories. And at CTC, Richard III is stirring up all kinds of action.
2018 Young American Shakespeare Festival
May 12 @ 2:00, May 13, 16, 18 @ 7:30, May 20 @ 12:30
The Merry Wives of Windsor
May 10, 12, 15 @ 7:30, May 19 @ 2:00, May 20 @ 8:00
Measure for Measure
May 11, 17, 19 @ 7:30, May 13 @ 2:00, May 20 @ 4:00
Nancy Sexton Stage
Commonwealth Theatre Center
1123 Payne Street
Louisville, KY 40204
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan