Friday, March 1, 2013

Richard II by William Shakespeare, Poor Shadows of Elysium at the Curtain theatre, February 21 - March 9, 2013

Austin Live Theatre review
Richard II William Shakespeare Poor Shadows of Elysium Austin TX

by Michael Meigs

This company, the Poor Shadows of Elysium, is newly established but its principals and associates are well known to the curious collection of Shakespeare enthusiasts in Austin. After appearing in recent years as Oberon, Prospero, Mercutio, and Marcus of Titus Andronicus, Kevin Gates surrendered to the lure of Renaissance drama and enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Texas State. His partner and executive producer Bridget Farias has been running the EmilyAnn Theatre in Wimberley with summer "Shakespeare under the Stars" for young persons and an annual Shakespeare play by adult actors in the fall.

Aaron Black has played Austin stages as Hamlet and as Brutus since his arrival here several years ago. Director Christina Gutierrez had done dramatugy for Austin Shakespeare and others, co-founded the 7 Towers Theatre Company, directed John Ford's Tis Pity She's a Whore at the Cathedral of Junk, and has just turned in her Ph.D. thesis for UT's Program of Performance as Public Practice.

(Kevin Gates, Aaron Black, Stephen Price (rear)(photo: Shawn McHorse)

This Richard II is additionally garlanded with Austin acting regulars Suzanne Balling, Travis Bedard, David Boss, Robert Deike and D. Heath Thompson, so if you've seen any Shakespeare at all in this town outside of the 40 acres or other educational confines, you'll probably see some familiar faces on these chilly evenings at Richard Garriott's reduced-scale Elizabethan-style theatre on the north shore of Lake Austin.

The company's title suggests the degree of its devotion to the bard and to the craft. Kevin Gates is an adamant advocate of fidelity to the texts as a way of realizing the intents of the playwrights, so perhaps it's appropriate to search out the phrase, which comes from Act IV of Cymbeline, within a deus-ex-machina scene rare for Shakespeare.

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