Whether you’re Shakespeare-obsessed or have no experience with iambic pentameter whatsoever, Sean Martin’s Richard II is the must-see show of this season.
“As far as we know this will be the first production of Richard II ever to be staged in Nashville,” director Sean Martin said. “I also just think opportunities to see things like this are often rare outside of places like New York or London, and it would be an unfortunate thing to miss it.”
Richard II is the story of a capricious king who makes arbitrary decisions until his own people welcome an invasion to change leadership. The production examines divine right, the responsibility of the commoners and the psychological weight of a crown.
The iconic work is retold with an entirely female cast, mixed with Lipscomb theatre students and Nashville Shakespeare Festival (NSF) actors. Caroline Amos, a regular actress with the NSF, shines in the role of Richard II, her mastery of Shakespeare obvious from her crisp diction and breathtaking storytelling. Amos portrays Richard II honestly and powerfully, making him startlingly relatable. The audience can sympathize with Richard’s mistakes through Amos’ retelling, instead of writing him off as incompetent or weak.
The dispute between Carrie Brewer’s role of Bolingbrook and Evelyn O’Neal Brush’s portrayal of Mowbray kickstarts the production, creating a conflict powerful enough to carry the whole show in its wake.
Denice Hicks is the perfect choice for the Duke of York. Her wise warmth fills out the intensely loyal role, endearing her to the audience.
Richard II also features Lipscomb professor and Chair of Theater Beki Baker as Northumberland, a role she portrays with ease. Baker blends seamlessly with the NSF actresses, maintaining the rapid-fire pace of dialogue and a masterfully professional stage presence.
The purposefully minimalistic set design allows the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps, as the storyline of Richard II takes place in a variety of settings. Between the props and the lighting, the audience never feels lost in the minimalism, but it allows a versatile platform from which the actors are the main focus.
Richard II will run from April 13-16 and 20-23 in Shamblin Theatre. Complimentary tickets are available for students provided by SGA using the code CROWN. Chapel credit will be offered April 20 with a short talk-back with the cast after the show.