The bones of Richard III are found under a British parking lot. Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has been taking place since 1996. The Drilling Company, which has been the company in residence since 2002, decides that art should imitate life. And that is how meli, rtb, violaleeblue, and I find ourselves at the Municipal Parking Lot on the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets in Manhattan watching a fabulous production of Richard III.
We got there early enough to grab a seat, which meant waiting an hour for the show to begin. During that time audience members had to keep getting up to let cars out of the lot. Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy announced that we may also have to get up during the show since the NYC Department of Transportation (in thinking only of the welfare of NYC residents) charged the company for the spaces used and allowed parking in those spaces so the DOT was charging double.
While we were sitting there we watched the set decorations go up. Past kings to the right and left of us. And an American flag on the right also. The set up was sort of theater-in-the-round with paths at the four corners of the square. There were also small risers behind us and behind the seats across from us and behind the seats at our right that were used by the actors.
Alessandro Colla came out in a suit, walking with a limp, left arm crooked up, left hand bent under, and smoking a cigarette. As soon as he starts with “Now is the winter of our discontent” we knew we were in for a treat. At times his Richard seemed to lean a little toward Al Pacino (and I wonder if Colla watched Looking for Richard a few too many times) but he was brilliant in the role.
Several other things began with the play. Drilling started up the street. And a Sturgis number of motorcycles seemed to have invaded the Lower East Side. That made it difficult to hear some of the actors. Colla projected well but most of the others did not.
Sheri Graubert as Queen Margaret was very good and I wish I could have heard her when she wasn’t facing us. Vince Reese played the first murderer and James Tyrrell as 1950s hood. I almost expected “Rock Around the Clock” to start playing in the background. Veronica Cruz as Queen Elizabeth was also good. Several of the actors played multiple roles and some of the male roles were played by women. Rachel Weekley played the Prince of Wales as a spoiled rich teenager and Reese’s Duke of York played with his iPhone while the adults around him decided his fate. When the characters talked about the Prince coming from Ludlow, I kept wanting to shout that we’re on Ludlow right now.
When Richard was crowned his portrait came down over the flag.
And when Richmond kills Richard, then Richmond’s portrait appeared.
In NYC we are very lucky to have so many opportunities to see Shakespeare in unusual settings and to see it for free. I’m working my way through them – I never studied Shakespeare in school and this is my opportunity to see these classics performed by great actors.
Richard III….Alessandro Colla
Lady Anne….Leila Okafor
Murderer 1/Tyrrell/Duke of York….Vince Reese
Murderer 2/Ratcliff….Ayo Oneké Cummings
King Edward/Bishop of Ely….Bill Green
Queen Elizabeth….Veronica Cruz
Rivers/Lord Mayor….Michael William Bernstein
Dorset/Lovell….Lauren E. Young
Queen Margaret….Sheri Graubert
Lady Stanley….Valerie Redd
Duke of Buckingham….Arash Mokhtar
Duchess of York….Kristin Johansen
Prince of Wales….Rachel Weekley
Boy…Joseph “J” Clancy
Clancy was the director, Jenifer Varbalow was the set designer, and Reese was the fight choreographer.
By Carene Lydia Lopez