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Review: Richard III

My incredible, amazing, wonderful hubby surprised me on Valentine's Day with a great weekend getaway to Downtown Denver. We stayed at the same hotel we went to the day of our wedding day, Hotel Teatro.

This has got to be the best hotel in Denver, hands down. We've stayed at the Oxford Hotel and toured the rooms at the Brown Palace, and although they are all wonderful.... Hotel Teatro is just unmatched for it's style, service, location, and perks. I am so glad that that place has a special place in me and my husband's lives. Ahhh, if only I could live there.

Anyway, Erik also made reservations for us at a new restaurant that opened up across the street from the hotel. It is a great seafood place called the Oceanaire. This place is known for shipping in the freshest, high quality seafood. I decided to indulge in a Valentine's tradition and get the lobster tail. It was SO good... Erik got a wonderfully prepared swordfish. Yum!

After dinner we had a little bit of time to head back and grab all the goodies from the theater package at Hotel Teatro. The package included the theater binoculars, Grand Marnier, and a piece of chocolate. Later, as a Valentine's day treat they left us roses and a little more chocolate. :)

Then we went to see Richard III at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (literally next door to Hotel Teatro.) This show was done by the Denver Center Theater Company. The Director, Jesse Berger, actually placed Richard in the time and place Shakespeare wrote the play in... Makes me laugh because I have an Onion newspaper clipping that says "Unconventional Director Stages Shakespearean Play in Shakespeare's Intended Time and Place." I have to say, they pulled it off well.

The set design worked very well. It was a castle center room that converted to the dungeon cells in the tower for George, Duke of Clarence, and for the two young princes. This really helped give the feeling of a prison and kingdom in one. There were a few set pieces in specific that really caught my attention. There was a large round stained glass window at the top center of the stage, underneath it was the throne. Directly parallel to the throne, at the edge of the stage, was a beheading block and axe. All three of these elements created symbols between God's power, man's sometimes violent and corrupted path towards power, and the throne between them. This was really cool because this is often an allusion that Shakespeare makes in his histories. Supposedly, the monarchy is divinely chosen by God, but man has the ability to exercise free will and pursue his own sinful greedy obsessions with control. Of course, in the end, the sinner fails; just as Richard, at the height of his power he is completely dependent on one of God's own creatures for his survival... "A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!"

Surrounding the thrust of the stage were black boulders, bars, and other random broken items. The floor of the stage had a large trap door that was used very effectively throughout the play. There were also six small grates in the stage floor encircling the trap door. These grates were also used nicely to uplight faces, release fog, and create colored clouds or beams of light. The lights were also used interestingly when the throne was nearly always lit up, even if only with the dimmest of light as it was pulled into the background.

The actors did a remarkable job. What I think I enjoyed the most from their performances were their sense of humor. They managed to highlight the humor that is innately in the script (but is sometimes ignored or overlooked) in wonderful way. Their use of humor broke the tension at points, and revealed the deeply twisted psychology behind Richard's journey to the throne. The performances that truly shined for me were David Manis (Richard III), Kathleen Brady (Duchess of York), Jeanne Paulsen (Queen Margret), and Nisi Strugis (Lady Anne). These actors all gave stunning performances. The two young boys that played Prince Edward and Prince Richard also were incredible... Makes me wonder what it took to get children their ages to not only memorize but eloquently recite Shakespeare. Hmmm...

The sound design was also nicely done. Thoughtful arrangements of music and effects, all which added to the overall quality of the play. The costuming was of course beautiful and thoughtfully created. We are so lucky in Denver to have such a wonderful performing arts center with such talented casts and crews.

I highly recommend all of the events and places of this weekend to anyone looking for a lavish and fun get-away. Go stay at the Hotel Teatro, have dinner at the Oceanaire, and take in a show (Hopefully Richard III before it's gone.)

All in all, this was an amazing weekend... Thanks to my AMAZING husband!! I love you, Valentine!


Erik said...

I'm so glad we were able to spend this weekend together. It was wonderful! And I have to agree, the play was very well done.

Thanks for sharing it with me, my amazing, fantastic, lovely wife!

(and thanks for helping me with Shakespearean knowledge!)

Anne said...

I thought RIII was great, too! We trekked to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last Summer, and I think DCTC does just as well, if not better. What a wonderful date! Come see a ballet next. :)


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