L et's leave it to the academics to determine whether or not King Edward III is by Shakespeare. More important to audiences, the script is theatrically sturdy and in parts powerfully written, a work that deserves production, not just graduate-school discussion.
The title figure, ruler of England for 50 years in the 14th century, is remembered in history books for his military campaigns in France, notably the successful siege of Calais, and the battle-heavy, jingoistic second half of the play takes place across the English Channel. Much of the first, though -- and the most striking part of the script -- deals with Edward's romantic interest in the Countess of Salisbury, the wife of one of his lords.
Director Clarissa Hurley tells the story with admirable clarity. Most of her performers understand and communicate the text's meaning -- though some actors are less comfortable with the language's rhythms and poetry. The major flaw in the production is Richard Wing's Edward, who speaks of love, war and kingship with the same flat accents. Nothing seems to excite him or cause him to vary his tone.
Other key actors deal better with the text, notably Sarah McVie as the clever, love-besieged countess and Chris Coculuzzi as the Prince of Wales, thrust into the midst of war. Both bring energy, honest emotion and nuance to their lines, speaking the verse as comfortably as if it were everyday speech. There's also good work by Simon Michellepis as the sour French king and Natalie Alvarez as a scribe Edward enlists to help him woo the countess.
KING EDWARD III, by William Shakespeare, directed by Clarissa Hurley, with Richard Wing, Chris Coculuzzi, Simon Michellepis, Sarah McVie and Natalie Alvarez. Presented by the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama at the Studio Theatre (4 Glen Morris). Runs to October 29, Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday matinee 2 pm. $12, stu/srs $10, Sunday pwyc. 978-7986. Rating: NNN