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Richard III lurks amid the stage's rough-hewn boards, makeshift throne, and frolicsome courtiers. With a wry smile, she (yes, she) slips into her opening monologue. Surveying her shape, which she terms, "cheated of feature by dissembling nature," the entwined pain and self-mockery of her lament nearly justify director Justine Lambert's decision to stage Richard III with an all-female cast (Looking Glass Theatre). That a male Richard was not made "to court an amorous looking glass" may be duly troublesome, but in our appearance-obsessed culture, how much the worse for a female one. Sadly, Lambert and her actors let fall this compelling idea almost the moment they raise it. Insights and explorations get positively stanched, and the next several acts, which ought to constitute a bacchanalia of bloodlust, play out with all the malfeasance of an ice-cream social. Would that the substance of the show evoked half the spirited play of Meghan E. Healey's chinoiserie-inspired costumes.

 
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