Richard III

Previewed 1 July 2014,Opened 8 July 2014, Closed 27 September 2014 at the Trafalgar Studio 1 (now Trafalgar Theatre)

A major revival of William Shakespeare's Richard III starring Martin Freeman and directed by Jamie Lloyd - presented as part of 'Trafalgar Transformed' for a strictly limited season.

"Now is the winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this son of York" Murderous monster or misrepresented monarch, Richard III continues to fascinate as one of Shakespeare's most renowned characters. He is an extraordinary creation: deformed from birth, his arm withered, his nature murderous, with no gleam of humanity, but much sardonic humour. But this great play is more than an evocative portrait of a powerful villain. It is an historical testament to the end of the Wars of the Roses and an era of power politics at their most bloody. PLEASE NOTE: This production contains some scenes of a violent nature therefore it is recommended for audience members of age 12 and upwards.

The cast for Richard III features Martin Freeman as 'Richard' and Gina McKee as 'Queen Elizabeth' with Maggie Steed as 'Queen Margaret', Simon Coombs, Philip Cumbus, Gerald Kyd, Paul Leonard, Forbes Masson, Mark Meadows, Paul McEwan, Lauren O'Neil and Jo Stone-Fewings. This production is directed by Jamie Lloyd with designs by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by Charles Balfour and sound by Ben and Max Ringham.

When this production opened Paul Taylor in the Independent highlighted that "Martin Freeman gives an intelligent, understated performance, full of witty, mocking touches in his rapid line-readings," adding that "the company perform with great verve and there are some horribly eloquent strokes." Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph described it as "director's theatre at its self-advertising worst, with Martin Freeman giving a disappointingly underpowered performance as Richard, normally one of the most thrilling roles in Shakespeare." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard noted that Martin Freeman gives "a crisp, thoughtful performance," adding that "the production, while undeniably vibrant, contains too many flashy gimmicks." Dominic Maxwell in the Times wrote: "Now here's a Shakespearean debut to applaud: Martin Freeman limps, lies, smiles, stabs and strangles his way to the crown in this excessive but invigorating Richard III... Gina McKee is particularly good as a grieving, Geordie Queen Elizabeth, but the cast of 20 sell all the production's conceits with relishable clarity." Michael Billington in the Guardian thought that "heavily cut to bring the play in at two-and-a-half hours, this is an inventive production that may well, thanks to Martin Freeman, introduce a new audience to Shakespeare. I'm all for that. But in the end, ingenuity is not quite enough. Jamie Lloyd's production looks physically constricted, misses the sweep and grandeur of Shakespeare's chronicle and, in place of the demonic exuberance, offers us a peculiarly bloodthirsty display of office politics." Neil Norman in the Daily Express said that "between the bouts of brutal, bloody violence (don't sit in the front row unless you're on very good terms with your dry cleaner) the politics of the play are cleanly conveyed. It may lack malevolent, conspiratorial glee but it's got gore galore."

"Jamie Lloyd's pacy, gory revival sets the play in the aftermath of a war, in a cramped command room filled with military leaders and civil servants. The battle for power is all about who is best at PR, and it's all a bit of a squash. Nevertheless, there are some fine performances, none better than Gina McKee's grief-stricken Queen Elizabeth as she begs for her daughter's life. But this is played too much for laughs, and fails to thrill or chill." The Mail on Sunday

"Jamie L1oyd's production of Richard III, which, while admirably fast-moving and well spoken, offers a much diminished reading of the play. The 1970s office setting makes more sense in the programme note than on the stage, where it both cramps the action and evokes disconcerting memories of an earlier Martin Freeman performance. His low-key, conversational Richard has integrity but no excitement and the play is driven by the more spirited performances of Gerald Kyd as Catesby and Jo Stone-Fewings as Buckingham. Maggie Steed is an unusually rich and sympathetic Queen Margaret." The Sunday Express

"Warped of mind and twisted of body, Richard III is Shakespeare's most hideous creation. The unwanted child clawing his way to the throne through devious plots and bloody slayings is an unlikely comedic figure. But Sherlock star Martin Freeman brings black humour to the role. In Shakespeare''s dark asides, Freeman gives the king a biting sarcastic wit, drawing laughs from unexpected places. He lurches his hunched body round the stage to mesmerising effect as the bloodbath plays out and the front rows become drenched in gore... The king's bones may have been dug up in a Leicester car park recently, but Freeman has brought Richard III back to life in all his grotesque glory." The Sunday Mirror

"This isn't one of the great Richard IIIs but it is different, and Martin Freeman makes it strange and new and entirely his own... The setting is our actual Winter of Discontent, 1978-79. The designer, Soutra Gilmour, gives us a quintessentially dull and ugly 1970s office interior... It's a production with many points of interest and bold touches, and Freeman's slightly dowdy Richard is certainly original, even if he seems a little too low-energy to make a convincing usurper of the English throne." The Sunday Times

Richard III in London at the Trafalgar Studios with previewed from 1 July 2014, opened on 8 July 2014 and closed on 27 September 2014.


Mark Rylance in Richard III - 2012

Previewed 14 July 2012, Opened 25 July 2012, Closed 13 October 2012 (in repertory) at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Previewed 7 November 2012, Opened 17 November 2012, Closed 10 February 2013 at the Apollo Theatre

The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre present Shakespeare's Richard III in London in an all-male Original Practices production, exploring clothing, music, dance and settings possible in around 1601.

At the West End's Apollo Theatre this production played in repertory with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with the same company of actors.

The cast at London Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the West End's Apollo Theatre featured Mark Rylance as 'Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Richard III)', Austin Moulton as 'Edward, Prince of Wales', Ben Thompson as 'Marquis of Dorset', Colin Hurley as 'King Edward IV'/'Stanley, Earl of Derby', Ian Drysdale as 'Scrivener/Earl Rivers'/'Sir James Blunt', James Garnon as 'Duchess of York'/'Tudor, Earl of Richmond', Jethro Skinner as 'Second Murderer'/'Messenger', John Paul Connolly as 'First Murderer'/'Sir Richard Ratcliff', Johnny Flynn as 'Lady Anne Neville'/'Lord Richard Grey', Liam Brennan as 'George, Duke of Clarence'/'Lord Mayor', Paul Chahidi as 'Lord Hastings'/'James Tyrrell', Peter Hamilton Dyer as 'Sir Robert Brakenbury'/'Sir William Catesby', Roger Lloyd Pack as 'Duke of Buckingham', Samuel Barnett as 'Queen Elizabeth', Austin Moulton or Shanu Hazzen as 'Edward, Prince of Wales', and Lorenzo Allchurch or Dylan Standen as 'Richard, Duke of York'.

Directed by Tim Carroll, with choreography by Sian Williams, designs by Jenny Tiramani, and music by Claire van Kampen.


Kevin Spacey in Richard III - 2011

Previewed 18 June 2011, Opened 29 June 2011, Closed 11 September 2011 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

A major revival of William Shakespeare's play Richard III in London starring Kevin Spacey

Presented as part of the Bridge Project 2012.

The cast featured Kevin Spacey as 'Richard Duke of Gloucester', Andrew Long as 'King Edward IV'/'Bishop of Ely', Annabel Scholey as 'Lady Anne', Chandler Williams as 'George Duke of Clarence', Chuk Iwuji as 'Duke of Buckingham', Gary Powell as 'Sir Francis Lovel', Gavin Stenhouse as 'Marquess of Dorset', Gemma Jones as 'Queen Margaret', Hannah Stokely as 'Young Edward Prince of Wales', Haydn Gwynne as 'Queen Elizabeth', Howard W Overshown as 'Brackenbury'/'Keeper'/'Lord Mayor of London', Isaiah Johnson as 'Lord Rivers'/'Scrivener', Jack Ellis as 'Lord Hastings', Jeremy Bobb as 'Sir William Catesby', Katherine Manners as 'Young Richard Duke of York', Maureen Anderman as 'Duchess of York', Michael Rudko as 'Lord Stanley', Nathan Darrow as 'Henry Earl of Richmond'/'Lord Grey', Simon Lee Phillips as 'Sir James Tyrell'/'Duke of Norfolk', and Stephen Lee Anderson as 'Sir Richard Ratcliffe'.

Directed by Sam Mendes, with sets by Tom Piper, costumes by Catherine Zuber, projections by Jon Driscoll, lighting by Paul Pyant, music by Mark Bennett, and sound by Gareth Fry.

"The only thing missing from this vivid, compelling revival is a precise sense of time and place. In every other respect it's a triumph, and a fitting full-stop to the Bridge Project, which brings together actors from both sides of the Atlantic to take Shakespeare around the world. Spacey is at his bravura best. Misshapen Richard may be, but he's anything but feeble. It looks as if there's a steel fist within that leather glove, for he uses it like a club; one leg is callipered but he can bustle about at a terrific lick. His hump and stoop make it all the easier to invade people's space, pushing his face uncomfortably close to theirs. What's so special about Spacey's performance is that you never forget for one second how hateful, scheming, dishonest and ruthless Richard is, and yet you can't help but admire his jaw-dropping audacity... Mendes's production is filled with inspired ideas: the set of three walls each with five doors is what you'd expect for a French farce. And there is indeed something farcical about the way Richard mows down every obstacle to the throne... There's terrific tension as the entire cast turn percussionist and drum their apparently resounding support as Richard hobbles up the aisle to the throne, only for him then to trip over somewhat unceremoniously. Spacey is always mesmerising, but this is not a one-man show. The angry, grieving women are magnificently moving, especially Haydn Gwynne as Queen Elizabeth." The Mail on Sunday

"The twin-turbo powerhouse team of Sam Mendes and Kevin Spacey brings us this new production, and a lead role that, as everyone agrees, Spacey was surely born to play: the evil crouchback and elvishmarked, abortive rooting hog Richard III... Spacey is blistering as the bloody villain, revealing to us a scheming hypocrisy so epic in its ambitions that it's almost magni-ficent, and certainly hilarious. This is one of the most bitterly funny and satirical Richard IIIs I've ever seen, Spacey's smiling, self-delighted collusion with the audience wickedly enjoyable, but never pantomimic... Aside from Spacey, however, this is a disappointingly uncertain production. Haydn Gwynne is suitably queenly as Queen Elizabeth, Chandler Williams a touching Clarence and Gavin Stenhouse an uncommonly pretty Marquess of Dorset. Yet too many other minor parts are weak. The set is especially dull: essentially a greyish box with a lot of doors" The Sunday Times

"Given all that they have achieved in the film world it is heartening that the London stage should still exert such a powerful hold on Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes. The actor and director have alighted on Richard III as they feel the story of the "deformed, unfinish'd" king - who is reviled by his people but determined to cling on to power at all costs - has a special resonance in these, the final days of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi... This is, however, a huge undertaking - the epic, sprawling production lasts almost four hours - and perhaps it's inevitable that it should always seem, in some respects, 'unfinish'd' itself. How churlish it would be not to acknowledge how well Spacey acquits himself in the title role: there is perhaps no greater test of an actor's craft, as well as of his stamina... Mendes's direction is, similarly, efficient rather than inspirational." The Sunday Telegraph

Richard III in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 18 June 2011, opened on 29 June 2011 and closed on 11 September 2011.