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What Does it Mean to be a "Teenage Dick?" - A Play Review

A modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Richard III” makes its way to Calgary, thanks to the Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP). What was a topic on royal politics in Shakespeare’s time is turned into a window of high school drama.

Teenage Dick is starting
Sitting in a YYC Theater

The play starts out with our protagonist Richard who is an unpopular high school student with a disability. He is often bullied and ridiculed, being called “Dick” and other unkind words because he is different. Mostly this comes from the bullheaded star quarterback named Eddie, who wants to once again rule the school by being senior council president. After being treated so horribly for so long, Richard plots revenge by running for the title against his tormentor.

With the reluctant help of his sharp-minded wheelchair-bound best friend Buck, Richard makes plans to not only usurp Eddie but to charm the most popular girl in their class. His plans seem to succeed; however, Richard finds himself wondering if he should go through with his ruthless plot for power. Slowly he finds himself falling for his new dance-loving girlfriend which is making him ask the question: What is more important? To be loved or be feared?

Teenage Dick Remembers
Remember High School

After watching this play, it is clear that if William Shakespeare was here today, he would be very pleased with what this theatre has done. It is filled with dark comedy, interesting twists, and thought-provoking performances that make a person guess what is at the bottom of our hearts.

Although it has some coarse language (including ableist slurs) it is imperative to see what people like Richard struggle with. Thanks to the tremendous acting done in this play, you can sense how our charming albeit cunning anti-hero truly struggles in life. His pain is very real but so are the other players when faced with their own adversities. Even his love interest, breaks your heart. The acting in this play with its young actors, truly shine in a way that you would think they are veterans.

The screenplay itself had reminisce of the original work but altered enough so that a modern person could understand what is going on. The poetry of the words are still there and yet the emotion coming from the sayings are translated in a way that the everyday person can get a good sense of. So, All and all nothing was taken away from the original. The humour itself kept things light while the intrigue and ambition always kept you guessing.

That's the Play
In the End, its Curtains

This play is for anyone who knows what it is like to be bullied, belittled, or fearful of the consequences when they make the wrong choice. Mike Lew, who had written this play had done his high school homework and knew exactly how to make people understand the depth and feeling that Shakespeare was going for. The ATP had selected the right story and people to make this adaptation a success. This is not a performance that a person should miss.

Special Thanks to:

Alberta Theatre Projects: For putting on a fabulous show.

My good friend Sunita: For inviting me.


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