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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘I am myself, alone. Richard III’ in Appleton explores zealotry

Critic At Large

Lawrence University Theatre Arts

Lobby display.


My kingdom for a horse, indeed. How about a kernel of kindness?

Or so it seems in a new distillation of William Shakespeare’s take on Richard III, king of England for a little more than two years, ending on a battlefield in 1485.

Lawrence University Theatre Arts offers two more performances today of a well-dressed production titled “I am myself, alone: Richard III.”

Lobby display board. (Warren Gerds)

The adaptation by Olivia Gregorich (an alum) and Timothy X. Troy (of the faculty) is ambitious – as trying to hone any Shakespeare play is – and full of dramatic moments.

Richard Duke of Gloucester is in perpetual pursuit of the throne, at every turn plotting, conniving, calculating, manipulating and murdering. Sometimes Richard wonders about his fanaticism, but he soon takes comfort in is love for himself.

It’s a delicious role, and Chris Follina digs into Richard’s ham-handed ways and is a force in the production. His Richard uses a cane and walks with a limp – a reference to Richard’s ill-shaped body that is seen as a motivation for bitterness.

Most students in the cast play multiple characters and do their best with roles steeped in centuries of Shakespeare’s maturities and nuances that take years and experience to polish.

What does come off is an earnest sense to tell this story of vainglorious intrigue at the cost of friends (Hastings/Casey Kollman), wife (stolen/Haley Stevens), brother (Clarence/Max Altman) and practically anybody in Richard’s sight.

Visually, the production has pop, from the colorful coats of arms dressing the wood-framed set to the many, many period costumes from battle wear to regal coats and gowns – with two nightmare scenes with haunting characters cloaked in colored filmy fabric. Set pieces include a slightly elevated square of floor akin to a chessboard; Richard is forever calculating his next move. Nice touch.

Basic set. (Warren Gerds)

In any Shakespeare production, famous quotes are a treat. This one has “Now is the winter of our discontent,” “And thus I clothe my naked villany,” “Off with his head!” and the one about the horse.

Side note: Recommended is the extraordinary documentary “Richard III: The New Evidence,” which traces the as-it-happened discovery of Richard’s remains 530 years after his death to modern-day, confirming identification by DNA.   


Creative: Playwright William Shakespeare, adapted by Olivia Gregorich and Timothy X. Troy; director – Timothy X. Troy; set design – Austin Rose; costume design – Karin S. Kopischke; lighting design – Aaron Sherkow; sound design – Timothy X. Troy; assistant sound design – Matthew DeChant; dramaturg, scenic coach – Olivia Gregorich; property design – Abby Simmons; technical director – Aaron Sherkow; stage manager – Julissa Hernandez; assistant stage managers – Riley Seib, Rufino Cacho


Richard Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) – Chris Follina

Lady Anne, James Tyrrell, Cardinal, Murderer – Haley Stevens

Duke of Buckingham – Alec Welhouse

Queen Elizabeth, Sheriff – Carly Beyer

Sir Wm. Catesby, Murderer – Frankie Sobel

Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Religious – Madeline Guest

Wm. Lord of Hastings, Religious – Casey Kollman

Queen Margaret, King Edward – Maren Dahl

Prince Edward, Lord Stanley, Blunt – Layne Eklund

Duke of Clarence, Mayor, Pallbearer – Max Altman

Earl of Richmond (later Henry VI), Dorset, Pallbearer – Ben Carlick

Running time: One hour, 35 minutes

Remaining performances: 3 and 8 p.m. Feb. 22.



NEXT: “The Domino Effect” by Fin Kennedy, May 14-16.

VENUE: Located in Lawrence University’s Music-Drama Center (built in 1959), Cloak Theatre is primarily a back box experimental theater. During the academic year, Cloak Theatre is the site of improvisational comedy, student-directed projects and musicals. Seating for “I am myself, alone: Richard III” is on individual chairs on a banked structure.

THE PERSON: F. Theodore “Ted” Cloak started teaching at Lawrence in 1929 and by 1933 convinced the then-college to establish a Department of Theatre and Drama. Ted Cloak led the department until his retirement in 1969. The F. Theodore Cloak Experimental Theatre was dedicated in his honor in 1973. Ted Cloak also played a role in the founding of Fox Cities-based Attic Theatre in 1950 in the attic of the Cloak family home on North Union Street near the Lawrence campus.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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