This being my first visit to Eclectic Company Theatre, Richard III seemed like a great start to an eventful Summer theater season, which, this year, boasted a dirge of classical indoor and outdoor plays happening around town. What I expected to be a sleepy little company in the Valley turned out to be, to my happy surprise, a powerhouse of talent. Unsupervised at worst but rife with potential, Eclectic’s presentation of one of Shakespeare’s most villainous of characters diverted into a rather interesting course.
They could have used some better direction.
There was so much going on choreographically apart from the script that the whole thing occasionally needed a pause and a re-align.
The costuming by Wendell C. Carmichael was stylishly extravagant in its black and white, futuristic 1930s era mashup. The production however, was cluttered with noisy entrances and exits via the many platformed stage design, the text projected through a wide variety of acting styles, application of opera style makeup in a very closeup house, a forthwith dramatic delivery or two that ended as abruptly as it had begun, plus the breathtaking length of the show.
But the bombshell is that despite some of the more flagrant missteps inside the production Eclectic Theatre Company actually packed a wallop of a show!
Actor Jon Mullich endowed Richard with ferocious comedy, vicious wit and Olivier style spoken word every living breathing moment of the tyrannical, manipulative, hunchback’s life on stage. In the vein of it being a truism that in narrative drama, the villains get the best lines, most certainly no meaning was left unearthed. No text unaddressed. Paired with the incomparable repartee of actor Jesse Merlin as Buckingham, these two by mystique alone held focus and kept this show moving at a stealthy pace. Although, there were many notable performances in this play. Overall it was a delicious Richard III.
A little sewing is in order but only to seem the players more perfectly together. Otherwise, at Eclectic there is most definitely color and contrast, flavor and fragrance. It will be interesting to see what comes next.
Produced by Natasha Troop and Marni Troop
Directed by Natasha Troop
Fight choreography by Christian Chan
The Cast: Jon Mullich as Richard, Jesse Merlin as Buckingham, and Christian Chan, Alon Dina, Melody Doyle, Carissa Gipprich, Rachel Kanouse, Jessicah Neufeld, David Pinion, Tim Polzin, Glenn Simon, Janie Steele, Randi Tahara, Gary Tremble, Eliot Troop, Micah Watterson and Nathan Werner.
Photo (above) by Marni Troop: Jesse Merlin and Jon Mullich