Otherworld Theatre Presents STUPID SHAKESPEARE’S SUPER RICHARD WORLD 3 - Richard III Nintendo Mashup, Highly Recommended best play pix, Thru August 4th
Have you ever wondered what it might be like if the various characters from Super Smash Bros were to start an independent, black box theater company in Chicago so that they can stage the early works of Shakespeare?
Otherworld Theater is Setting the Scene at Every Turn
The lobby and bar area are adorned with Hogwarts house banners and paintings of Storm Troopers, Dragons and the Milky Way while the speakers above the bar project 8-bit melodies from what some call the golden age of (video)gaming..
Before curtain, the stage—flanked by renderings of either side of the Nintendo Switch controller —is bathed in emerald green light. The ebullient tones of the Nintendo Wii menu music lay an ethereal sonic bed beneath the chatter of the arriving audience.
The show opens with a Donkey Kong inspired battle. When the battle is over and the victor marches away, the light shifts and Justin Smith (as Luigi playing the part of Richard III) turns to the audience in sinister soliloquy, all the while employing a comically exaggerated, faux-Italian, classic Luigi accent. It is in this moment, as knowing snickers and surprised belly-laughs fill the theater, that Super Richard World 3 reveals its very singular identity.
A High Wire Juggling Act
The audience audibly delights as exclamations of “Let’s a-go!” and “Pika Pi!” surround weighty monologues that infuse Shakespeare’s verse with various elements of Nintendo lore. In place of the sign of the cross, characters make triangle signs over themselves (sign of the Triforce, perhaps?) as they invoke prayer. Players perform the iconic poses and signature sounds of their video game characters while delivering the same authentic emotion one would expect from a traditional Shakespeare play. In this reviewer’s experience farce is not usually quite so earnest; drama is usually not quite so silly. Somehow, Super Richard World 3 manages to be both in equal measure. The audience gasps in despair over a character death in one moment, then giggles uncontrollably at a high pitched vocalization by that character’s murderer the next.
An Unexpected and Unique Blend, not just of the Ancient and Modern
The program cover and internet ads muse “It’s just Richard III with Nintendo Characters” and that may be true but this particular reviewer was surprised and delighted by the sheer density of world and story Otherworld Theater has created. Kinda like a well-made peach lemonade, the design of this show is so deceptively intricate, you might have trouble keeping track of where the Shakespeare ends and the Nintendo begins . . . but you may find the result quite refreshing.
Most of the cast - 12 Actors in all - play several characters, each of which, in this writer’s view, is performed with dimensioned, visceral humanity -- even, perhaps especially Val Gerard Garcia’s Pikachu/Rivers. Smith (Luigi/Richard III) walks a fine line between the menacing gravitas of Richard III and Luigi’s child-like vulnerability. Mary-Kate Arnold (Princess Peach/Elizabeth) commands coiled intensity while demonstrating an extensive emotional and vocal range. Carly Davis imbues Zelda/Hastings with tragic pathos while Katie Ruppert and Phillip Zimmerman demonstrate crackerjack comic timing as Mayor Pauline/Margaret and Bowserham/Buckingham respectively.
This play is for anyone who thinks they might enjoy something familiar wrapped in something unexpected. Those equally well-versed in the worlds of Nintendo and King Richard III might receive the highest pleasure from this show , but this reviewer would recommend it to anyone - except maybe theater goers repelled by the aesthetics of Geek Culture and/or Shakespeare.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Justin Smith As Luigi (Richard III)
Gage Ranchich as Waluigi(Clarence) and K.Rool(Catesby)
Carly Davis as Zelda(Hastings)
Michaela Voit as Daisy(Anne) and Slippy Toad(Messenger)
Mary-Kate Arnold as Princess Peach (Elizabeth)
Val Gerard Garcia as Lord Pikachu(Rivers), Peppy the Hare(Stanley's Messenger) and Meta Knight(Ratcliff)
Gaby Fernandez as Lord Kirby(Grey) and Fox(Stanley)
Phillip Zimmerman as Bowserham(Buckingham) & Donkey Kong(Henri VI)
Katie Ruppert as Pauline (Margret)
Devin May as Mario(King Edward IV), Toad(Lord Mayor) and Diddy Kong(Richmond)
Matt Keeley as Link(Tyrell, Brackenberry, All the Murderers) and Falco(Messenger)
Molly Southgate as Rosalina(Young Elizabeth and Dorset) and Luigi(Richard III)
Coco Kasperowicz: Understudy
Adapded by: Katie Ruppert , Joshua Messick and the Cast of Super Richard World III with additional cuts from Mary-Kate Arnold
Directed by: Joshua Messick
Production Design: Dan Sonenberg
Props and Costumes: Dan Sonenberg and Katie Ruppert
Fight Design: Matthew Perry Smith
Sound Design: Joshua Messick
Poster Design: Tiffany Keane Scheafer
Thru August 4th
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2:30pm
3914 N. Clark Street
Chicago IL 60613
About the Author:
Spence Warren is a Filmmaker, a Film Worker, A Musician, A Puppet Maker and - apparently - an occasional reviewer. He hopes to offer people - particularly those who love story in all its forms - valuable insight and perspective.