Richard II at the Guthrie Theater

It turns out I’m not hardcore enough to be able to endurance-watch three Shakespeare History plays in one day as part of the Guthrie Theater’s marathon series, but I did check out the first of the Henriad by seeing Richard II. I’ve been so impressed with Tyler Michaels King’s past performances (his portrayal as the emcee in Theater Latte Da’s “Cabaret” haunts me to this day), and I was excited to see what he was going to do with one of Shakespeare’s most foolish and ineffective rulers. 

Helped along by a gaudy and over the top costume design by Trevor Bowen, Michaels King’s Richard  swims in the folly of his excesses, his self indulgence, and his inability to think things through. Michaels gives a delightful physicality to his vain and obtuse king. 

William Sturdivant, who plays Henry Bolingbroke (he also plays the same Henry— later Henry IV— in the next play in the series), counters all of Richard’s negative qualities with positive ones. Where Richard II is indecisive, Bolingbroke is clear in purpose. Where Richard wines and acts cowardly, Henry exudes strength. Charity Jones, who plays John of Gaunt and two other characters, also shines in this production directed by the Guthrie’s artistic director Joseph Haj. The run goes through May 24 at The Guthrie ($34 through $77). More information here.

Sheila Regan

Sheila Regan is a Twin Cities-based arts journalist. She writes MinnPost’s twice-weekly Artscape column. She can be reached at [email protected].


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