Brace yourself: Available Light Theatre and director Matt Slaybaugh have "cut and pasted" William Shakespeare's "The Life and Death of Richard the Third."

Brace yourself: Available Light Theatre and director Matt Slaybaugh have "cut and pasted" William Shakespeare's "The Life and Death of Richard the Third."

This "Richard" has its eccentricities, that's for sure.

What rivets the attention, though, is Ian Short's Richard. The fact that his naked villainy is clothed in costume designer Michelle Whited's Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie threads and makeup is only part of it.

At every single moment, sitting off to the side, Short watches, listens and reacts. Lips curl into an ironic smile. Mouth molds into an "O" of mock shock or sympathy.

And when the misshapen monarch moves, his legs and crutches splay like "that bottled spider" (from Mars, no doubt). The parallel of Richard's roleplaying to Bowie's makes the point with visceral authority.

Available Light's "Richard" may not be the best introduction to the play, but only a malcontent would deny that it's bracing.