In a local production of "Richard III," the famed villain will be played by two different actors, one representing his outward deceptions and the other his string-pulling intellect.

"Richard III, to me, is one of the most beautifully duplicitous characters in all of Shakespeare," said Carrie Anne Mallino, who's directing the show based on her own adaption.

As a character, Richard is "acting" toward his family while conspiring with the audience, she said.

While watching local actors Howard Kingston and Eric Prim in a production of hers two years ago, the classically trained Mallino thought that they'd both make a good Richard.

She approached them both about her concept for "Richard III," and then began editing the play.

Kingston plays the Richard that is acting toward his family, while Prim plays Richard's roaming mind.

"When he feels Howard is not getting the job done, he steps in," she said.

In an early scene, for instance, Richard woos his would-be wife, Lady Anne, over the body of her father-in-law, who Richard himself killed.

Prim's Richard realizes Kingston's isn't pulling it off, and steps in and becomes Kingston's voice.

Then their roles are reversed after a key development about two-thirds of the way through.

"Once Richard is crowned king, his mind has to be very present," she said. Then Prim takes over the bulk of the role, with Kingston acting his conscience, "which is not much," she said.

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For modern audiences, too, Mallino knows Shakespeare must get cut, in particular the sprawling "Richard III."

She opted to edit out the history, since the play is the last chapter in Shakespeare's retelling of the War of the Roses.

She said that some people might object to that tactic, but she thought those aspects would most bewilder modern audiences, akin to walking in on the middle of a long-running soap opera that keeps referencing earlier seasons.

Kingston, too, said that Shakespeare assumed his audiences would be familiar with the events.

She also decided to highlight some of the humor.

"I find a lot of 'Richard III' very funny, which is not played up a lot," she said.

"It's not a lighthearted comedy mind you, but I didn't toss aside what I saw as some of the most brilliant humor that Shakespeare had."

Mallino also focused on the women. Usually, she said Queen Margaret is the first to get cut, since scholars argue she wouldn't have been there. She also kept Richard's mother, the Duchess of York and matriarch of that house. (She plays that role.) Lady Anne, widow of the Prince of Wales and Richard's future wife, is played by Brit Garner.

Queen Elizabeth, wife of Edward IV, is played by Clare Edgerton.

Rounding out the cast of 12 is Anthony Ascione, Adam Ward, Robbie Hoth, Colton Wedding and Sabrina Yost.

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Mallino's independent company, Sunshine Unlimited, staged a script written by her father, David Mallino, in 2013. Her dad, a retired Washington, D.C., lobbyist, wrote "Ruby" about the murder trial of a real-life madame of a Butte brothel.

She has worked as a tour director for Missoula Children's Theatre and taught middle school and high school theater.

In 2014, she directed Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" at the Crystal Theater, and she has participated in the local "Shakespeare Under the Influence" events, where she and group of Bard fans chop up a script and play their roles in a Missoula pub.

They're staging "Richard III" at the Crystal Theatre in a "black-box" fashion, with minimal props, costumes and sets and no special effects.

"This is dependent upon Shakespeare's words and the actor's ability to convey them," she said.

Kingston said Mallino's "aim is to bring Shakespeare back to a popular audience rather than have it be scholarly."

"The focus is on the people and their interactions and of course, the language of Shakespeare," he said.

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