If the Appex Theatre Company’s current production of “Richard II” is an indication of what kind of Shakespeare productions we can expect from the new Chicago-based company—made up of recent Northwestern University theater graduates—then there is much promise and a great deal to look forward to. No distractingly faux British accents here like you will find over at Navy Pier and such, in fact, this is a “Richard II” that has been blessedly exorcised of annoying American Anglophile wannabe conventions. This is a refreshingly young ensemble cast, so young in fact that characters of older generations such as Richard’s uncles look like they are stand ins from “Lost Boys” rather than senior members of a royal court. But turnabout is fair play when you consider how often we have endured elderly thespians as Shakespearian teenagers. Written while Shakespeare was still perfecting his craft, “Richard II” has more ambiguity than the later history plays where the text will dictate virtually every interpretative decision, at least when directors and actors actually read and follow them. But the Bard never really knew exactly what to make of poor Richard—is he sympathetic? An innocent but spoiled stooge of his uncles? Any such ambiguity is removed from Appex’s performance by cuts that skip ahead to Richard’s fateful decision to banish two combatant cousins rather than show us the conflicted process by which Richard came to arrive at this unwise decision that will ultimately cost him his crown and life. Clearly, this is a Richard who has made his bed and lies in it, with the camp and dandy factor played up, though in this production there are other court members attempting to out-dandy him. (Dennis Polkow)
Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, (773)327-5252. Thu-Sat 7pm/Sun 3pm. Through Aug 4.