Quasimondo’s Nautical Mash-Up
Acting is the high point in the ‘Tragedy of Dick III’
While Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre has built a reputation on creating thought-provoking, original work, its latest production, The Nautical Tragedy of Dick III, will leave audiences confused about what they just witnessed.
Quasimondo co-founders and directors Brian Rott and Jessi Miller take on the ambitious task of combining Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, William Shakespeare’s Richard III, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Although the titles sound like they would seamlessly flow together, the storyline often gets misinterpreted due to the lack of dialogue.
However, Dick III’s performers use this style to show off their acting skills, relying mostly on their movement and facial expressions to communicate with one another. Jessie Miller provides comedic relief as she dances around the stage as Penguin Pip, while Robb T. Preston demands attention donning a feminine strut in his lavish garbs and expressive clown makeup. Preston also makes an astounding transition from Queen Elizabeth to the vile Captain Richard II Hooks, chugging rum straight from the bottle and spilling the majority on his bare chest.
The actors pleased the audience with several sea shanties, including “Blood Red Roses” and “A Drop of Nelson’s Blood.” Music director and composer Therese Goode also led the crew in Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” providing a more serious outlet to show off the actors’ vocal range. Goode presented her own musical talent by fiddling throughout the performance, while other cast members played the guitar, accordion and flute. Goode previously designed sound for Quasimondo’s Children of Pac-Men last fall.
Quasimondo chose a small venue above Company Brewing for Dick III, providing an intimate setting with only two rows of folding chairs. The up-close and personal approach will allow audiences to admire Rott’s intricate makeup designs and the beautiful costumes by Margaret Schires.
Although the performers powerfully express different issues through vignettes, like Lady Anne (Kathryn Cesarz) fearing her husband Richard, the performance fails to tie all the different threads together to create a clear plot.
Through Sept. 10 in Studio Q above Company Brewing in Riverwest, 731 E. Center St. Visit quasimondo.org for tickets and further information.