Sunday morning I went and got coffee with Lesley and Bob from Marin Shakespeare before heading to African American Shakespeare’s production of Richard III.
We got coffee at Equator Coffee in Larkspur and talked about their production of Pericles that I had seen Friday night and about their plans for the future of Marin Shakespeare. It was there that Lesley told me the story about Dameion’s father being presumed dead and how that informed his portrayal of Pericles in the reunion scene with Marina. Lesley and Bob are some of my favorite people I spent time with on this trip; they’re so kind and interesting and they’re doing such amazing work. Even though I only saw one show there, Marin Shakes was probably the place I felt the most at home.
After coffee, I headed into San Francisco one last time to see African American Shakespeare’s production of Richard III. This was one of the productions I’d been most excited to see on the trip, both because the play itself has been on my mind and because I was excited to see an entirely black cast in a Shakespeare play for the first time. As someone who believes Shakespeare’s plays are truly universal, and as someone who has worked with lots of black actors and students trying to convince them that Shakespeare is for them just as much as anyone, I was encouraged to see an entire production of black actors taking on Shakespeare.
The production was strong, especially Richard himself, but also the duke of Buckingham and Richmond (who played several other smaller roles). This Richard had no trace of melancholy about him; he was seductive and hilarious throughout. There’s a kind of relish in Richard, a delight in doing evil that you can downplay, but this Richard chose to play it up. When Rivers and Grey are put to death at the end of the first act, Richard came back on stage to toast their execution with a glass of champagne.
The playing area was interesting, with a kind of catwalk horizontally down the center with a moving backdrop and projections. Most of the action was played up on this catwalk. The text was heavily cut, which I personally prefer, especially on plays as long as R3. So action moved along at a nice clip and didn’t feel like it was dragging at any point.
All told, the show was impressive. There were a couple of minor production choices that I didn’t love, but the performances more than made up for them.
After the show, I got dinner at Gracias Madre, an awesome all vegan Mexican place and then started the drive south to Orange County.