An Appreciation: Shakespeare BASH’d

by Lynn on February 11, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

Richard III  (Feb. 6-11, 2018)

At the Monarch Tavern, Toronto, Ont.

Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Julia Nish-Lapidus

Cast: Cosette Derome

Jade Douris

Jennifer Dzialoszynski

Suzette McCanny

Shalyn McFaul

Drew O’Hara

Trevor Pease

Catherine Rainville

James Wallis

Kelly Wong

Joseph Zita

Shakespeare BASH’d was started ten years ago by James Wallis and his partner Julia Nish-Lapidus. They produce spare productions of Shakespeare’s plays, usually at the Monarch Tavern. They always sell out their performances to their loyal audiences and always attract new audiences along the way.

This year’s production of Richard III was no different. Their runs are short. This run was from February 6 to 11. You snooze, you lose in getting a ticket if you wait too long. Richard III seemed a natural choice for this year’s production considering what is going on in the world of politics, especially with our neighbours to the south. So many lines echo our present world and the notion of power and evil.

The production went like the wind in Julia Nish-Lapidus’ strong direction. James Wallis played Richard III with muscularity, nuance, keen intelligence and a pushy fierceness. The whole cast, except Wallis, mingled in the playing space as the audience filled in. The audience sat on either side of the long playing area. When the production began Wallis as Richard III, burst into the room from behind a curtain near the front door and barrelled down the space. The mingling cast reacted by quickly moving back to one end of the space, to keep out of his way. He delivered his first soliloquy with clarity and bite. For the whole of the production it was always Richard III against the rest of court etc. Even when he was conspiring with Buckingham (Cosette Derome) Richard stood a bit apart.

The casting was a bit eclectic—women played men’s parts as well as the few women’s parts. For example Catherine Rainville played both Elizabeth and Catesby very well. The men played a multiple of roles, all with conviction. The whole cast was exemplary but occasionally they could have slowed down with the speed of their delivery.

It’s heartening to see the commitment and respect that James Wallis and Julia Nish-Lapidus have for Shakespeare. It always comes out in their productions. They will be doing Measure for Measure next at the Junction City Music Hall, May 1-6.  Don’t let that one pass you by.

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