The Golden Age was brought back to life last week at the Glen Morris Studio Theatre with a performance of The True Tragedy of Richard III, produced by the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama and Poculi Ludique Societas. Well, kind of.From inside, the theatre could easily be mistaken for a well-lit barn. With a stage set-up that looked like a makeshift cardboard cutout with four doorways, a single curtain drew each door entrance shut. The use of these doorways is no more exciting than it sounds, but it’s not for lack of funding or lazy set designers. Rather, it’s an attempt to recreate an Elizabethan theatre production.Less than 50 people comfortably filled the seating area in the theatre—a platform of uncomfortably upholstered 1980s orange tweed wooden chairs. The attempt at recreating the viewing customs of the Elizabethan era—half of the house was reserved as standing room—was thwarted by the small crowd. The audience appeared to be made up entirely of family and friends of the performers, creating an awkward feeling of attending a recital for someone else’s kid.
The actors’ performances, however, drew attention away from the cheap setup and uncomfortable atmosphere of the theatre. In fact, the intensity of Jason Gray, who played the very convincing Richard of Gloucester, is the only aspect that might warrant a $20 ticket. Despite what arguably may have been a little over-acting in the closing of the performance, Jill Carter played a very entertaining Shore’s Wife, the emotional whore of the dead king. Carrie Hage (as Will Slaughter) and Rob Salerno (as Jack Denton) also drew some laughs with their memorable performances. Despite a couple of botched lines here and there, the overall performance was better than mediocre.The production, which opened on November 15, follows last year’s Shakespeare and The Queen’s Men theatre experiment, an ongoing scholarly research project aimed at recreating the Elizabethan stage in the manner and techniques of the late 1580s. From rehearsing techniques (or lack thereof— the first performance is the first time the actors are all on stage together) to the limitation of actors receiving only their own lines to memorize, every aspect of Elizabethan theatre has been taken into consideration.Admittedly, the production was interesting in terms of its historically accurate recreation of Elizabethan theatre techniques. But the performance of the players warrants a modern theatre, a larger audience, and a little less orange tweed.