The Arts Club Theatre Company, in collaboration with Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival and Realwheels Theatre, presents the Vancouver Premiere of Teenage Dick by Mike Lew. Playing until March 5 at the Newmount Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, Lew’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III shifts the action from the halls of 15th century English Royalty, to the modern halls of Roseland High. Poised to match the upper echelons of other teen-set Shakespearean adaptations; like 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s The Man or Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet.
Tired of being bullied and mocked for his cerebral palsy and Shakespearian cadence, 17 year old Richard Gloucester is determined to seize power in the upcoming student elections. Played by the brilliant Christopher Imbrosciano, previously seen in the Arts Club’s Cost of Living, who has cerebral palsy, as required in Lew’s casting notes to cast disabled actors for this role as well as that of Buck. Imbrosciano is perfectly cast, holding both the youthful innocence of a high school student and the disarming charm of a power-hungry pretender to the throne with Machiavellian plans to overthrow Eddie the football-star and current student-body president. The comedic-tragedy is filled with both references to Shakespeare’s original Richard III and other plays, quotes and memes fit around many modern culture references from channeling Election’s Tracy Flick to quoting Clueless. Hitting the current affairs of Twitter live-tweeting, Christianity, election voting and more, the light moments bring much laughter, but there is also a darkness barely below the surface, showing that no character is all good or all bad.
Other members of the Roseland ‘Royal Court’, who are all too easily manipulated into aiding Richard’s plans, include “Buck” Buckingham, a wheelchair-using ‘former’ ally (played by Cadence Rush Quibell), Jesus-loving overachiever Clarissa Duke (Elizabeth Barrett) who also has designs on the crown but can’t match Richard’s wits. Marco Walker-Ng plays current President Eddie Ivy, the popular football star is also a ‘dick’ whose constant badgering of Richard sets the actions of the play in motion. Eddie’s former girlfriend Anne Margaret is a cause of even more conflict. Adding the brilliance of Bard on the Beach veteran Jennifer Lines as Teacher Elizabeth York provides the cast with its adult anchor but even she isn’t immune to Richard’s manipulations.
While Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s longest plays, Teenage Dick clocks in at a speedy 1hour 40minutes (no intermission). The Ashlie Corcoran-directed play packs a punch, with plenty of action and dialogue loaded into the short runtime and waves of emotions to washing over the audience. Parjad Sharifi’s set seats the audience in the ‘bleachers’ around the high school gym basketball court making us feel a part of the action as we watch the Teenage Dick play out his quest for power.
See for yourself just how amazingly manipulative Teenage Dick can be until March 5th at the Arts Club Theatre’s Newmount Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre. Find out more details and tickets online at artclub.com
2 thoughts on “High School is Tough for a Teenage Dick”
This is a great production, and I highly recommend it. Please avoid ableist and outdated language such as, “wheelchair-bound”.
Thank you for catching it and pointing that change of language out, Janice.