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Review: THE DEATH OF KINGS: SEIZE THE CROWN at Southwest Shakespeare Company

Review: THE DEATH OF KINGS: SEIZE THE CROWN at Southwest Shakespeare Company

BWW Review: The Death of Kings: Seize the Crown

This production is an amalgamation of the history plays of Shakespeare. There are 8 in total, but this production condenses the best parts into a compact 90 minutes. The Crown is a heavy burden to bear, but those who seek it will murder, pillage, and destroy to get it.

From the moment the play begins, the energy from the ensemble is focused and intense. The set dressing is simple, but the movement, props, and symbolism are imaginative and unique. As Director, Irwin Apple, discussed in the talk balk following the performance, theater will fail at doing what films and television can do, so the actors must invent new ways to present ideas and stage direction to keep it fresh and relevant. Each member of the cast plays several roles which speaks to the talent and ability of the actors. The chemistry abounds regardless of who is on stage. Their physicality and delivery helps the audience to understand what is being said, despite the use of Shakespearean language.

While these characters are loosely based on historical figures, it is impossible for the viewer to ignore the relevance of this production in the current political climate. The struggle for power is present and real, and our rights are being infringed upon on a daily basis. This production serves as a reminder that there are those who will deceive and murder to obtain their goals much like King Henry IV and King Richard III. On the other hand, there are those who have strength of character and are filled with a natural nobility that does not need to be bestowed with a crown.

This cast is superb. Each is a student in the Department of Theater and Dance at UC Santa Barbara. They are dedicated, energetic, and articulate. The language of Shakespeare is difficult to present, but this cast delivers every word with a crisp and flawless authenticity. The direction is simple, which lends itself perfectly to the space at Taliesin West. The costumes are wonderful, and the audience is captivated as the physical and metaphorical crown is passed, brutally, from head to head.

This production is educational, exciting, and unique. The time passes quickly which leaves the audience yearning for more. It needs to be seen to be understood and appreciated. The Death of Kings: Seize the Crown is presented by Southwest Shakespeare, Naked Shakes, and the Department of Theater and Dance at UC Santa Barbara. The show plays through March 31 at Taliesin West. Tickets can be purchased here. This production is made possible by the Arnhold Endowed Theater and Dance Production Fund. More information about the fund can be found here.

Photo Credit: Laura Durant

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