Single Line! ID’s ready! You’re time traveling to 1980s England. The smoke filled basement at the fictional club, Roxy sets the stage for a battle of the bands. It’s Shakespeare’s “Richard III” with an incredibly new “punk” interpretation by the Secret Theatre’s Queens Players.
Director Alberto Bonilla invites young and old to this bold presentation; “Everyone has a punk, a rebel or a rockstar hidden in themselves…So if you ever had a part of yourself that wished you could punch that jerk in the office, get back at that lover who scarred you, or just play sick mad guitar…this ‘Richard’ is for you.” The troupe also balances the playwright’s humor with its sense of fierce historical tragedy.
It helps if you brush up on your Shakespeare before attending, but attend you must. It is arguably one of the strongest performances by Richard Mazda, the troupe’s founding executive producer, in the title role. His confrontation with Deanna Gibson as Queen Elizabeth in the second act is a well played emotional roller coaster and absolutely riveting.
On opening night, the versatility of the troupe is eminently clear. The talented band members (Christopher Coffey, Peter Collier, Ryan Halsaver, R. Alex Murray, Andrew Justin Smith), are also actors in the drama. Assassins clad in British “Bobby” uniforms (Samantha Maurice, Benjamin Russell) juggle their sinister purposes with physical comedy.
Haunting costumes and terrifying make-up help combine Brittany Brook’s (Lady Anne) and Emily Kowaleski’s (Lady Rivers) fifteenth century power struggle with 1980s passion. Sandra Karas as Richard’s furiously embittered mother and Ralph Petrarca as Richard’s deceived cousin offer extremely strong support as well. In fact, the entire cast and behind the scenes experts have once again provided a consistent and extremely high quality performance.
Currently onstage at 4402 23rd Street in Long Island City, this production is another of the troupe’s well crafted introductions to Shakespeare’s genius. Call (718) 392-0722 or surf to www.secrettheatre.com. The Secret Theatre is home to some of the finest creativity in the city with more productions just weeks away. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.