In keeping with the Colorado Shakespeare Festivals plans of late to stage Shakespeare's chronicle of the War of the Roses in order over a period of several consecutive years, this summer we are presented with Henry VI. Of all Shakespearean drama, the trilogy of Henry VI, Parts I, II, and III are by far the most adapted, so it's no surprise that the Festival, given it's propensity to adaptation, would choose to stage a new version of this seldom told tale. For this, they chose Robert Potter's Queen Margaret, which emphasizes the first great dramatic heroine in the canon.
Potter, a professor of dramatic art and director of the playwriting program at the University of California-Santa Barbara with many credits, has no fear of editing the text and, in fact, begins near the end of Part I and never slows down from there, keeping the entirety to just under two and half hours, not including intermission. While this condensation of events occasionally moves so fast as to draw a few laughs from the audience, it is, overall, an efficient and powerful portrait of England's first great Queen.
Although Margaret never succeeded in the way Elizabeth and Victoria did, she laid the groundwork for powerful empresses with her force of will and her aptitude for political analysis. Gloria Biegler is a tour de force as Margaret. Effortlessly Biegler turns on her charm and fetching good looks to convincingly display how Margaret endeared the most able noblemen to her cause, then calls upon her steel resolve to leave no doubt that Margaret anchored the House of Lancaster against the mighty House of York.
Throughout Biegler is supported by well shaded portraits from Richard Haratine as Henry, John Tessmer as Suffolk, Aaron Munoz as Warwick, Lars Tatom as York, and, in a glimpse at next year, Chip Persons as Richard.
Directed by Tom Markus, Queen Margaret presents as clear a view of a complicated civil war as is possible and provides us with a heroic Queen in the process.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Queen Margaret runs in repertory with Two Gentlemen of Verona, King Lear and As You Like It through August 17th. 303-492-0554.