A Different Take on Richard III

By Zena Kapsoff

The Southern California Shakespeare Festival production of “Richard III”

Richard III by William Shakespeare is presented by the Southern California Shakespeare Festival (SCSF). The classic play stars and is directed by Lisa Wolpe. The SCSF is known for its non-traditional casting with women playing men and men playing women. But during Shakespeare’s time, didn’t men play women all the time?

These cast members worked very hard in portraying many often-changing roles in this vast play. Plus, they had limited time and financial resources, which you wouldn’t know by watching the performance. Richard III was a collaboration that includes four guest artists and thirteen student actors from the Cal Poly Pomona Theatre Department plus student designers, student management teams and crews.

The layout of the stage is set up so the players interact with you and each other. The time is set in England in between the World Wars. What you notice about Lisa’s performance is not that a woman is playing a man, but that you delve into the psychotic soul of this tyrant through such piercing eyes! Lisa has quite the resume and experience to pull off such an endeavor. Other standout performances are the heartbroken Queen Elizabeth (Linda Bisesti, SCSF’s Artistic Director and Cal Poly’s Associate Professor) and the sad widow Lady Anne (Katrinka Wolfson). The dialogue that goes on between Richard III and the Queen or Lady are so full of passion, bitterness and loathness, you cannot help but get entangled. Mention must also go to Daniella Tarankow’s performance as Duchess of York. I couldn’t help but think she reminds me of a young Meryl Streep. Plus, the cast did a great job talking with British accents!

Bravo to all involved.

Richard III runs until Oct. 2 on Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at The Studio Theatre, Cal Poly Pomona, located at 3801 W. Temple Ave., Building 25, in Pomona. Run time is 120 minutes plus 10-15 minute intermission. Admission is $15; students/seniors/Cal Poly faculty and staff $12. Parking is $3 and available at the yellow boxes in the parking lot. Call for reservations or visit online at http://www.class.csupomona.edu/th/oldsite/scsf/.

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