Get Cultured — February 23, 2015 at 11:15 am

Richard The Third and Goal (R3G) Goes for the Touchdown, but Settles for a Field Goal

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Richard the Third and Goal featuring Patrick Toon and Montgomery Sutton Photo credit Neal Freeman

In 2000, Ray Lewis was convicted of murder for the stabbing of two individuals. His murder charges were later dismissed, but he still served a year of probation for obstruction of justice. In a moment that seems out of a movie, Ray Lewis came back the next year and won the Super Bowl with the Ravens. Richard III is a historical play by William Shakespeare based on Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard was a villainous man that through manipulations, ended up King of England. What do these two individuals have in common? Not much, but writer/director Neal J. Freeman found a clever way of uniting American Football with one of the bard’s famous historical plays to give us this production of Richard the Third and Goal (or R3G) playing at the Frigid New York Festival. Did it work?

Before I answer that question, I would like to give credit to Bloody Shakespeare Theater Company for taking the risk of creating such daring work. Using the old tale of the terrible Richard the III with Ray Lewis’s insane situation must have been a daunting task, but one that they tackle with the bravery of one of Shakespeare heroes. Having said that, the result is a mixed bag of energetic highlight reels and frustrating missed opportunities.

The dialogue itself was a wonder to watch most of the time. The way it combined Shakespeare dialogue with Lewis’ real life words was tremendous. Hard at the beginning to the audience, the play shifts through both men’s words to ultimately create a satirical view of the reverence that our society feels toward questionable characters. As much as it worked, the novelty wears off halfway through the play, and by the time it reaches its climax I was ready to leave. The play only runs 55 minutes.

As a Shakespeare fan myself, I enjoyed most of this production. It was light, fun, and put in the perfect stage for it. The actors (Montgomery Sutton, Minna Taylor, and Patrick Toon) were one of the problems why the quality started to decline halfway through. Their energy went down as quickly as it went up, thanks to the frustration they were building because of some technical mishaps. Usually, I don’t mention the technical problems that happen or the moments when actors seem to have lost it on stage, after all, this is live theater, it happens. Problem is, it was obvious. It was a shame really, because until then their performances were my favorite thing of the production. And while I’m talking about the actors, I would like to bring out the fact that while all of them were capable of a decent job, I wonder why there were no African-American actors included. I mean, after all, Ray Lewis is black. Definitely something that stood out for me.

The technical part of this production was in fact great for a theater like Under St. Marks. The theater is small, with not a lot of space to do much. It has around 50 chairs, the stage, and a booth that is visible to everyone. Freeman used the space to elevate the production and it almost worked. Too bad that it seemed they needed a couple of more days of rehearsal.

Richard The Third and Goal or R3G is being presented by Bloody Shakespeare as part of the FRIGID NEW YORK FESTIVAL until February 28. The production is not perfect, but it is ambitious. Not great, but enjoyable nonetheless. And while the flaws do take away from it, theater is always a work in progress, and this is one you should check out. Chances are, if they get everything working right, your experience will be better than mine. You still have a couple of chances left to see them, check bloodyshakespeare.com for dates.

Out of 4 stars, this mash-up gets:

stars

Twisted Talk: Have you seen any Frigid Festival shows yet this year? Which is your favorite? Discuss below!

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