Review by Danny Gaisin
Shakespeare’s Richard III is a convoluted yet still fascinating play 6 centuries after his death at Bosworth – the battle that ended the Wars of the Roses and the House of York. The interpretive envelope-push had to be the Dreyfuss reading in ‘The Goodbye Girl”; but Tim Welham’s one-man definition is an incredible thespian piece of artistry. For 1¼ hours, Welham captures not only the physically flawed but morally challenged British King. By amazingly diverse facial expression; body language; voices and stance, the audience meets each of his friends, associates, victims and relatives.
One also has insights into the man’s psyche and ambiguities.
The characters of Lancaster; Buckingham and Gloucester may not be as fleshed out as in the original Shakespeare; and neither are the motivations for Anne or Elizabeth’s or potentially Isabel’s rationalizing an obvious lack of attraction toward the man…maybe ‘power’ IS an aphrodisiac! But his Richard definitively projects a charisma that fascinates. This writer finally can grasp why women sporadically will correspond with convicted serial killers.
Director Megan Watson keeps the pace almost frenetic and not just the split-second character switches wherein the monologue becomes a dia- or trialogue. Obviously, the symbiosis between creator Welham and his director had to mesh on numerous planes or else the effort would not have succeeded as it surely does.
Knowledge of the Shakespeare version but also awareness of the transition from the High Middle Ages to the Renaissance era make following the shenanigans portrayed onstage less complicated. Regardless of one’s familiarity with the historic aspects, CROOKBACK is a dramatic apex for Welham & Watson that demonstrates the unlimited parameters that theatre can offer. It’s on again tonight at the West End Studio Theatre on Oakville’s North Service Road, and unless one has an unbreakable previous commitment; this is not-to-be missed opportunity.