Though King John's soul may have elbow room, there is certainly no room for anything to be lacking in Upstart Crow's production of King John at the Capitol Hill Arts Center. The story of King John is a bloody and treacherous slippery slope of war and murder. From King to warrior to corpse, King John fights his way to the top then clamors down the other side of the mountain, taking everyone he can down with him - or should I say her? Rosa Joshi's (director) production of King John is comprised of a fully-female cast attired in the powerful suits of the Twenty-First Century mixed with the crests and skins of the Twelfth. This lends an interesting slant and interpretation to this ancient history. The succession implications that are readily apparent in our war-stained world today are dealt with through the writing of William Shakespeare in the telling of the story of this King John. With the costumes - by Melanie Taylor Burgess - transcending any specific time restraint, the set, too, has to go beyond any specifics. This is fantastically accomplished by the set team originally led by Jennifer Zeyl. The blood spattered metal-plated floors and walls give the audience a feeling of an abandoned meat locker in a butcher's shop with the crests of England and France on either end of the long refrigerator. The simplicity and subtleness of the set is wonderfully complimented by the lighting design of Pattie West. The fades and spots that match the action and sound cues by M. Elizabeth Eller keep the audience perpetually on seat's edge. Rosa Joshi's direction of this production is phenomenal. Her interpretation of modern implications an the ways in which the actors deliver these centuries-old lines and still make them part of our own time are very precise and meticulous which gives the audience the ability to sit up and enjoy the rollercoaster ride. The cast is, overall, extremely strong. Amy Thone's portrayal of King John is incredible and Peggy Gannon's work as Philip the Bastard is equally impressive. Their stage presence is undeniably captivating and their emotions are felt by each member of the audience.
This production is an incredible work of art and I regret not having a chance to see it until the closing performance. However, look for more from Upstart Crow productions in the future!