Richard III

Shakespeare gets an uncommonly talented director and an often standout cast

When Richard died in battle in 1485, his death ended a series of English civil wars that had gone on for 30 years — the Wars of the Roses — which may explain why this production has a large black-and-white picture of a hand holding a rose at center stage. It's a striking image full of violence and romance that's ideal for Shakespeare's great meditation on the seductive nature of evil. The rose is just part of Kim A. Tolman's masterful set, which places us in an abstract future and defines the author's themes in bold modern strokes. Composer Igor Nemirovsky wraps the proceedings in compelling, icy tones that add to the ambience and help move the play forward. The action has an authoritative sense of tone and urgency that point to an uncommonly talented director, Jon Tracy. The cast is unified in its competence with the verse, and there are numerous standout performances: Skyler Cooper brings an incredible physical presence to the stage, Anthony Nemirovsky as Buckingham is nimble with the language and subtle with his characterization, and GreyWolf sinks his teeth into Richard III as if he'd been waiting his whole life to play such an enigmatic, charismatic villain. Frank Wortham


Through Nov. 18 at Project Artaud Theatre, 450 Florida (at 18th St.), S.F. Tickets are $2.50-37.50; call 392-4400 or visit

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