On Superbowl Sunday, I trudged through the snow to watch a battle that didn’t involve footballs, or cleats, or dancing cheerleaders. Instead, I walked two miles amongst fresh snow to take in the Shakespeare Theatre’s Company’s production of Richard II.
The play was well produced with seasoned Shakespearean actors in most of the major roles and a set that evoked simultaneously the ruin and glory of the monarchy. The costumes were at times distracting and I wondered on occasion why the knights looked like extras in the Matrix but it wasn’t enough to stop me from being fully engaged in the first and arguably most beautiful of the histories.
What did really strike me about the entire affair, is that I was seated next to the two most horrendous theater go-ers I have ever met. Perhaps there is something about people who would miss the superbowl to take in a play that speaks to a certain type of nature. However, yelling at me for moving in my seat speaks less to my natural squirm-y demeanor and more to their lack of reverence for the work. I was yelled at no less than 15 times in the first half of the play. If you are out there lady with the severe black hair and general hatred of the world and her companion in glasses and receeding hairline, I hope you think for a moment about how your hisses distracted others.
I’d like to offer a few rules for theater patrons everywhere:
- Some people can’t stop moving, forgive them;
- Never hiss at someone regardless of who you are;
- And finally, in a snowstorm, don’t go to see a play in bare legs.
Now back to the review….
For those who don’t know:
King Richard neglects his subjects and spends lavishly, giving rise to his charismatic cousin Henry Bolingbroke. As the battle to rule England approaches, Richard’s supporters abandon him for his rival. Will Richard learn what it means to be a king before he loses the crown? Written entirely in verse, Richard II contains some of Shakespeare’s most thrilling language. Director Michael Kahn’s previous examination of this troubled leader was hailed by The New York Times as “an evening of dynamic jolts and surprises.” Richard II plays in repertory with Henry V.
I’m excited to see Henry V later this month and wonder if it will be as captivating. However, I have yet to see a production here which does anything less than enthrall. This time, let’s hope that I don’t have to walk there in a snowstorm and that those seated next to me will be the gracious and agreeable fans with whom I normally engage.