In The New Republic, another critic discovers the merits of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, even if the mountain had to come to Mohamet. Robert Brustein minces no words in praising Rose Rage, just closed in New York, and reserves the most extravagant plaudits for the production’s devastating Richard:
Part III features the emergence of the most fascinating character in the play–Shakespeare’s first well-written villain, Richard Crookback. This hedgehog, born with a full set of teeth, is a man destined “to bite the world.” As played by Jay Whittaker, he not only brandishes a straight razor, he is a straight razor–you can cut yourself simply by touching him. Anticipating his intent to murder Edward’s two sons in the tower, he licks the kids’ faces with his viperish tongue. Glowering, sneering, a tuft of beard beneath his lower lip, a rakish black homburg on his head, Whittaker is as blistering and cruel and witty a Richard as I’ve ever seen–and I’ve seen a lot of good ones, including Olivier, McKellen, and Branagh.
In this particular as well as several others, Brustein’s review is in agreement with the one Terry wrote for the WSJ last winter, which I in turn agreed with wholeheartedly. As for his wake-up call about Chicago Shakespeare generally–and one feels the rest of Chicago theater can’t be far behind in getting his attention–
To single out individual actors from the production is to disregard the general excellence of this remarkable company. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater has been in existence now for eighteen years, and I am ashamed to say that until Rose Rage I had never seen it in performance. If this production is typical of the company’s work, then it is clearly one of the most talented, electric, and dynamic theaters in the country.
Aw. Being scooped is never fun, but there’s no shame in it.