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The Reign of King Edward the Third

a Historical Drama
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 5134

SHOWING : September 23, 2017 - October 01, 2017



With the claim of Prince Edward III to the French throne, the Hundred Years War begins.
In Act One: Edward rescues and woos the Countess of Salisbury. Both married to other people, Edward and the Countess agree to each kill the other’s spouse, but who is fooling whom and who will follow through? In Act Two: A young Edward (also known as the Black Prince), convinced of his rightful claim to the throne of France, fights hard on the battlefield to win his father’s respect and the right to become England’s King.

Director Mary Ruth Ralston
King John Tony Brown
William Montague/King of Bohemia Kirsten Chervenak
Derby O’Neil Delapenha
Count of Artois Nicholas Faircloth
Copland/Duke of Lorraine Adam Daniel King
Prince Phillip/Percy Kathryn Lawson
Prince Charles Vinnie Mascola
Countess Kati Grace Morton
Edward III Drew Reeves
Lodwick/Villiers/Philippe Nancy Riggs
King David/Salisbury Chris Rushing
Prince Edward David Sterritt
Warwick/Gobin deGray Clarke Weigle
Douglas/Mariner/Mountford Kenneth Wigley
Audley Troy Willis
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A Romantical History
by playgoer
Monday, September 25, 2017
The king of France has died, leaving no direct descendants. A new king, John II (J. Tony Brown), has been installed, but the rightful heir, to some minds, is Edward III of England (Drew Reeves), son of the late king’s sister. Edward crosses the channel to challenge the combined armies of France, Bohemia, and Poland and claim the French crown. But first he has to handle a Scottish border incursion, led by Scotland’s King David II (Chris Rushing). In military terms, this is done quickly; in dramatic terms, not. Much of the first act is devoted to the married Edward attempting to woo and romantically conquer the married Countess of Salisbury (Kati Grace Brown), who had faced the same sort of attempts from the Scots who had overtaken her territory.

Edward III is not the most likable of monarchs. His attempted adultery is one strike against him, and his refusal in battle to aid his son, Prince Edward (David Sterritt), also smacks of a character deficiency, although his stated aim is to toughen his son and make him a man. He also has a tendency to welsh on promises, although he is usually persuaded by others to take the more charitable path. He’s a king and successful conqueror, but not necessarily a hero.

Mary Ruth Ralston has directed a production that makes use of the standard Shakespeare Tavern elements (Anné Carole Butler’s appropriate costumes, action-packed battle sequences captained by David Sterritt, fairly basic lighting by Greg Hanthorn, Jr., and a musical interlude that in this case ends the first act). The only directorial misstep is having ambient sounds (wind, what I guess was intended to be water, and battle sounds) play throughout scenes instead of just being used to establish atmosphere and location. It’s distracting to have extraneous noise when attempting to attend to important dialogue.

Performances are good throughout, with the only true standout moment being when the Scots (Chris Rushing and Kenneth Wigley) enter in their kilts and converse in brogues thick as heather before dashing off in cowardly flight. Its the one true comic section of the play, enhanced by blocking that has Mr. Rushing pose with bared thigh. Messrs. Rushing and Wigley also impress in their other, more serious roles. Kati Grace Brown has the most impassioned speech as the Countess of Salisbury, and she delivers it with power befitting a queen, not the mere consort Edward is trying to convince her to be. Mr. Reeves holds his own as Edward III and J. Tony Brown has his moments as the French king, but it’s pretty much par-for-the-course performances we see.

"The Reign of King Edward III" is rarely performed, so it’s a treat to see it at the Shakespeare Tavern. However, as with most of Shakespeare’s "minor" plays, production reveals why the work is not among the most treasured in Shakespeare’s canon. Other works do history better; other works do romance better. This one combines them in a not wholly satisfactory mélange. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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