Comments

  1. Carol Wiederrecht says

    A couple of things . . it’s important to get the Bishop of Carlisle off-stage after he speaks up for Richard. It’s shocking that Bolingbrook would turn on a member of the church. It rocks the audience and shows Bolingbrook to be ruthless (You speak out again Bolingbrook, you’re arrested – – no matter who you are). Leaving him on stage weakens it, and begs the question of why Carlisle isn’t speaking up during the “mirror scene”. Leaving him on stage to become one of the conspirators is confusing.

    And Isabel’s last scene should be tightened up somehow . . . it’s more poignant if it’s a stolen moment. I also didn’t follow Isabel’s emotional journey – Shocked at her husband’s appearance, desperate to get him to do something, realizing he’s given up and realizing that this is the last time she’ll see him. That last realization should come as shock to her: Richard’s fall is so sudden, it’s almost too much to take in.

    I did enjoy this production enormously. I’ll put my program on my concierge desk and will be happy to recommend it.

  2. Sharon Sideris says

    I liked the way that Richard was played in this. I think he went for a fairly middle-of-the-road portrayal. I mean this as a compliment though because I feel like other productions may have over-emphasized certain aspects of his personality, whereas this portrayal showed the audience the complexity of his character.

  3. Tom B. says

    Richard is not quite royal enough for my blood. His throne has him sitting lower than the other cast members as they stand, which belittles him. Thrones are always up high! Also he physically touches people which is not right. No one ever touches the king in those days (or even looked him in the eye.)
    If the king is treated with more deference at the start, if we see him living in a loftier realm, then the impact of his downfall would be greater.
    There is a lot to recommend in this production, especially Dan Kremer (as Gaunt and the gardener) and Kate Wisniewski (as the Duchesses). Kremer brings real gravitas to every line, and the garden scene (with an affecting Brenda Joyner) is quite moving. Wisniewski is old-testament worthy as the Duchess of Gloucester, and alsoas a great comic foil for Bolingbroke in the “beggar and the king” scene near the end. This kind of comedy is where Seattle Shakes excels. The tragic demise of a king is tougher going though, and when we don’t see his kinglyness from the start in this production, we don’t quite feel what all his fuss is about.

    • says

      Tom,
      Many of the characters in Richard ll are the king’s uncles, aunts, and cousins (near & far). As I see it, Seattle Shakespeare played Richard as he was written; those who offer advice or censure to the king do so because they have sufficient social standing. If Richard doesn’t have the gravitas to appear ‘kingly’… well, that was the problem. The ‘office’ of the Crown – manifest in the powerful Regency of his uncle, John of Gaunt – sustained Richard while he was a young boy, but he was not a natural politician and when he came to his majority (and real political power) he bungled some sensitive issues.
      I second your comments on the actors, and add Mount as just the right thing for Richard. This performance and many others I’ve seen here are why Seattle Shakespeare is one of the treasures of North American Theater.

  4. Greg White says

    I thought the acting was superlative, particularly George Mount’s performance. He brought Richard to life.

  5. Desirae Wilson says

    I loved this show. Richard II is a bit of a problem play (not as well known, lots of characters/actors to keep track of, and a lesser known monarch) but none the less I think this company of actors took it in stride, creating unique portrayal’s and delivering some of the most lush and elegant lines in all of the Shakespearian canon: “Let’s talk of worms, of graves, and epitaphs…”

    Major highlights include:

    Brenda Joyner as the woe-beggotten queen. Joyner delivered both kindness and cunning to monarch.

    David Brown King as Aumerle and Kate Wisniewsky as the Duchess of York – fabulous mother and son duo

    Dan Kremer was perfection as both the nobel and dying Gaunt, and the humble witty gardener.

    Last but not least George Mount as Richard, wonderful work!

  6. olga says

    I was surprised that Bolinbrook’s last four lines (referring to his voyage to the Holy Land) were cut. This was an important point for him and shows his desire to do penance for his sins.

    I thought that the first part was very stale and it is not clear why almost everybody turned against Richard.

  7. Alice L says

    In the January 18th performance, George Mount was superb. Right away, in the face-off between Bolingbroke and Mowbray, Richard’s understated gestures and facial expressions limned a perfect portrait of a disengaged and gravitas-less king. David Foubert was an excellent Bolingbroke, changing from defiant and temperamental at the beginning to someone with a more mature view of the consequences of power. Dan Kremer was an excellent John of Gaunt, although I wish he’d delivered the paean to England with more reverence than anger. Kate Wisniewski was superb as the Duchess of Gloucester; her Duchess of York could have been more restrained–by being too expressive, she lost sympathy. In a similar vein, I would’ve preferred a more reserved York and Mowbray. Mowbray was not a young man in the play and should have appeared more reserved than Bolingbroke. York in some sense is the play’s moral and reasoned center and should convey a sorrowed calmness. But my only strong criticism is for the members of the audience who seemed to think they were watching a sit-com.

  8. Shelley Dreyer-Green says

    This afternoon’s performance of Richard II was the best I’ve seen in my three years as a season ticket holder. The combination of Shakespeare’s beautiful poetry with powerful ensemble acting was riveting. These elements, combined with minimalist but effective staging and vigorous pacing, propelled this philosophical exploration of kingship forward to its devastating and inevitable conclusion. Let’s hear it for more of Shakespeare’s history plays!

  9. Alicia says

    The simple and sparse staging was ingenious and flexible. There is only one prop — a movable throne and its reverse side which serves as a wall, and everything visible is black. The lighting serves to focus attention on the right places (perhaps it was just our seating, but we found the lighting harsh and distracting at times because it glared straight into our eyes). The simple staging enabled the audience to use their imaginations, aided by some helpful sound effects. Costumes were terrific! Excellent acting overall. My favorite scene was Dan Kremer as the gardener.

  10. Timothy Smith says

    Jan.19, afternoon performance. Pros: Dan Kremer as Gaunt, George Mount as Richard, both were as good as it gets in my opinion, could have watched those two as the only actors for the entire play. Cons: row D center section lighting glaring in our eyes and sound uneven, too loud, too soft.

    Overall a superb production. Highly recommended.

  11. Carole Schaffner says

    We have been subscribers to Seattle Shakes for many years. You never disappoint. But this performance was so wonderful that I have to tell you how much we appreciated it. First, the history, including the great information that was detailed in the “This English” section in the program, told me we were in for a rare performance. (Thank you, Rosa Joshi, we hope to see many more of your works/). The staging was beyond awesome. From the moment of the first scene until the final scene, the greatly effective use of the simple throne, was beautiful and powerful beyond any more elaborate set. The actors, especially George Mount and David Foubert were beyond great. All others as well. Again, PLEASE consider this a spectacular success and give us more of such enlightened historical performances as you can. MANY thanks to you, George Mount. You were so splendid.

  12. Mary says

    We saw the Thursday (Jan 23) performance and it was pretty darned fine. Like everyone else, we were impressed by George Mount. I’d add that I thought Robert Keene as Scroop was very good in Act III, Scene 2. He seemed truly nervous and sorry about the news he had to deliver. The staging, with the minimal props, was also great. The one jarring note, for us, was the music. Ocean noise and the occasional fanfare: fine. Plonking piano notes during emotional speeches (particularly Richard’s as he was giving up the crown): not so brilliant. The actor should be expected to convey the emotion on his own (and, in this case, I’m sure he could have); adding a cheesy soundtrack took away from the intensity of the scene.

  13. Patty says

    Theatre like this is what keeps me coming back to Seattle Shakespeare. Great acting all around and George Mount was superb. For all the great reviews I read ahead of time, it did not disappoint. Bravo.

  14. Jason says

    January 25th performance: unquestionably the best production I have ever seen in years of supporting the Seattle Shakespeare Company. I hope that Dan Kremer will portray the lead in this season’s production of King Lear, and that Rosa Joshi will direct.

  15. Don B says

    I am writing to say that I enjoyed yesterday’s show tremendously. I thought that all the players delivered terrific performances and the play as a whole was nicely presented.

    I am also thinking about looking into volunteer opportunities.

    One thing I do wonder about is whether the audience member whose phone rang during the performance was one of the “heads in a bag” delivered to Henry IV at the end… :)

  16. Chet Corpt says

    Perhaps it was my first experience with the Seattle Shakespeare Co., or maybe it was just a good day, but the Sat. matinee performance was more powerful than I’d expected. The intrigue of ‘who knew what and when’ , specifically regarding the murder of the Duke of Gloucester, was subtly and effectively conveyed. I also appreciated the nice musical touch as the partying king and queen delight in their melody-making. The deposed king’s soliloquy, so important I think to the play’s standing as worthy of being presented, was beautifully played. Needless to say, I look forward to the company’s production of King Lear.

  17. Kathy Wickward says

    Excellent production – Mount was a superb Richard II. His “lack of kingliness” was, in fact, played just right. Part of Richard’s problem was that he was not a competent king, was never quite sure of himself in the role. My teen has been talking about the performance for several days now, and we have been to many SSC performances before without that happening. This one has touched her deeply.

  18. Julie says

    I attended Saturday’s matinee performance. My main comment: I have been pondering and thinking on for days – which to me means this play was more than entertainment it was art done well! Bravo!

    The play had such a wealth of complexities and told such a powerful story that I wasn’t well aware of before seeing the production. It got me thinking about leadership about politics, about revenge and grief, about where power lies (can a king really rule if the heart of his people are not behind him? ). Also to me it shows the great personal and national costs when there is a lack of justice in the land. The entreaty by the slain Gloucester’s wife for justice for her dead husband and her brother John Gaunt telling her the needs of the kingdom come first is just a small part of the play – but to me that scene was very powerful! Even e I could tell the soliloquy of Richard in the final scene of the play was a demanding one for a performer. Richard is an unlikable character and with too much self-pity could become one you could not relate to. Without seeing his pain though the play would loose so much. I was struck by George Mount’s excellent and physical performance – he kept this balanced! To me it looked to me like he had lost 40 pounds as well as his identity between the opening scene in the throne room and the final scene where he was imprisoned and I was able to relate to the character even when finding him a very flawed human being. Bravo! A very happy season ticket holder!

  19. Patrick says

    This production has its high points, but I had to use my imagination in places. The older actors (Gaunt and the Duke of York) were outstanding! Richard II was reasonably convincing, as was Bolingbroke and Mowbray. The lords and other court advisers were too young to be convincing. They seem good for their age but their age is not sufficient. Sir Henry Green was 52, John Bussy at least 40. Both are played by boys that look 17.