Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent – Richard III @ Hart House Theatre Review
Although the city is buzzing with Hollywood’s hottest celebs for the Toronto International Film Festival, remember that Toronto has a number of its own stars who have been working hard on local projects that promise to make an impact that lasts longer than two weeks of faux glamour.
While our theatrical history typically involves musicals, there is nothing more true to the stage than a Shakespearian play and last night, we were lucky enough to be invited to the opening night of Richard III at the Hart House Theatre.
Widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, Richard III tells the bloody and brutal story of corrupt and arrogant Richard of Gloucester and the lengths he will go to gain the crown and reign in England during the War of the Roses.
Directed by Jeremy Hutton, the three hour play stars Andre Sills as the suave villain Richard of Gloucester, a heartless role that Sills pours himself into. His bewildering charm wipes your judgements clean, causing you to forget the corrupt acts he just committed to reset the groundwork for shock every time he one-ups his previous treachery. With a pleasant tone of comedic narcissism, Sills brings the villain Richard to life in front of your eyes, exposing his deepest, darkest thoughts for all to see.
Annemieke Wade’s passionate Queen Margaret stole the show each time she took the stage, demanding your attention while spitting out her spiteful curses. She seemed to float around the stage like a magical being in a dark blue prom dress, spreading fear through her damned enemies. It was a powerful performance to witness.
Another potent scene exerts a rare moment of modernized girl-power as Claire Accott‘s Queen Elizabeth stands toe to toe with Richard, calling him out on his murderous deeds and refusing to promise him her daughter. You can almost see her hatred piercing into Richard as she stands her ground and resists his charm. Ultimately, she concedes to his demands, only to defy her word later by rewarding Richard’s enemy, Richmond, with her daughter’s hand. That’s our kind of woman.
As always, the general production of the play is admirable. While set options are limited in a smaller theatre, the Hart House production team is so versatile when it comes to making the most of what they’re given. The transitions between scenes were seamless; your eyes being cleverly drawn to various areas of the stage as lights randomly illuminated different characters and scenes to camouflage any motion or change happening in the background.
And a personal shout out to Set Designer Scott Penner for the fascinating tree line. A simple enough scene, but the sneaky light work to create the transition from full bodied forestry to sinisterly bare branches during the dark inner monologues was impressive. Ashley would like to line her living room with your set design, please.
Richard III is on stage from Sept 15 – Oct 2 at the Hart House theatre. Tickets are $25 for adults or $15 for students and seniors and are available through www.uofttix.ca or by calling (416) 978-8849.
show images from hart house
ticket image from Veronica’s phone.