Review: "RIIIchard" Presents a Stylish, Non-Traditional Take on a Much Maligned King

 RIIIchard

Written by Norman Briski

Filmmaking by Frank Fantini; stage lighting by Miguel Ángel Valderrama

Presented by Teatro Latea via live streaming

December 17-19, 2020

In the popular imagination, Richard III has become synonymous with villainy, a hunchbacked, scheming child murderer. The Richard of Argentine actor, director, and playwright Norman Briski, however, is not the monster of Sir Thomas More and later, and most influentially, William Shakespeare. Briski's stripped-down short play RIIIchard offers a Richard who diverges from these traditional portrayals and whose ambition is not merely self-directed.

Richard (Bruno Giraldi), holding a drink, begins the play with some of the familiar lines about the winter and discontent but quickly departs from his Bardic forbear, holding forth in a liberal admixture of Spanish and English dialogue that continues throughout the performance. Eventually, the camera pulls out to frame Richard between two women (Josefina Lausirica and Vanina Frezza) whose makeup and clothing (white shirt and red pants for one, and the opposite for the other) evoke harlequins, with their symbolic potential in relation to Richard and his position. In this first appearance, they provide percussive backing, in the form of claps and stomps, while Richard sings. We hear of Richard's conception of his ambition, his identification as a soldier, and his disdain for institutional authority and its hypocrisies. Richards's mother (Jane Ives) sketches a different perspective, speaking of her relationship to him and/in contrast to his brothers and of her shame and humiliation regarding him. The play concluded with Richard's ruminations following battle, delivered for the most part prone, his sword loosely held.

The small stage is bare, with a screen for projection at the back, but that does not mean that the play is not visually interesting, from the memorable image of a crown created by fingers, to the two women playing rock, paper, scissors or Richard's transition from a simple brown robe to a shirt of mail. The production is sonically interesting as well, utilizing drums, feet, and hands in its aural accompaniment. Both Giraldi, who inhabits Richard with fervour, and Ives deliver impassioned performances; and Lausirica and Frezza prove intriguingly enigmatic in their non-speaking roles. RIIIchard's entertaining, post-modernist counter-narrative is worth pledging fealty to.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards

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