Reviews Roundup- Richard III

Shakespeare’s Globe

Actor Michelle Terry playing Richard III sits on a throne
Michelle Terry as Richard III. Photo: Marc Brenner

The Globe’s Richard III arrives on a wave of controversy because of the frequently misogynistic criticism of its non-disabled artistic director Michelle Terry taking the lead role. As it turns out, references to the murderous king’s disability have been excised and attention is on his toxic masculinity in Elle While’s nearly all-female production.

[Links to full reviews are included but a number are behind paywalls and therefore may not be accessible]

Tim Bano in The Independent (4★) described how ‘Michelle Terry takes Richard III and turns him into the kind of swaggering, entitled, entirely self-regarding mop-haired misogynist man that we’ve seen way too much of in positions of power in recent years.’ Claire Allfree in the Telegraph (4★) called her interpretation ‘a textbook reading in imaginative authenticity’. The Guardian’s Arifa Akbar (4★) pointed out, ‘Elle While’s direction turns it into a play about toxic masculinity of the highest order.’ ‘the play’s shocks hit in all the right places,’ she said, ‘Ultimately, it is a fast-paced, energised and entertaining production, the humour sometimes overplayed and hammy, but nevertheless a hugely compelling picture of corrupted male power.’

The Observer’s Susannah Clapp (3★) said, ‘Terry’s king is a lethal child. She outshines everyone else in a stimulating, patchy evening.’ Anya Ryan in Time Out (3★) declared, ‘As a Shakespearean actor, Terry really is as good as it gets.’ Her reservation was that ‘There is solid thought behind this production that pushes The Bard’s classic into the modern day. But, this is Terry’s show and hers only.’
The Standard’s Nick Curtis (3★) found her ‘horrifyingly compelling in the lead’ but thought ‘Elle While’s production is shouty and unfocused. It also strains too hard for contemporary relevance.’

Isaac Ouro-Gnao writing for LondonTheatre (3★) said, ‘for the most part, Richard III offers up stinging comedy at the hands of a talented and diverse cast, guaranteeing a laugh even during its darkest moments.’
Dave Fargnoli in The Stage (3★) called the production ‘bold, uneven’. On the whole, he was impressed: ‘Although While’s strikingly modern style feels chaotic at times, this ambitious production offers an intriguing, under-explored angle on Richard’s familiar story.’

According to Alexander Cohen at BroadwayWorld (3★), ‘Richard is the all too human anti-hero of Shakespearean canon. Here he is more concept in a wider societal conversation about gender roles post #MeToo.’

Sarah Hemming at WhatsOnStage (2★) wasn’t impressed: ‘There is some richness to be found in exploring the ways in which misogyny and tyranny almost always walk hand-in-hand, boosted by the use of an almost all-female or gender-fluid cast, but it often has all the subtlety and nuance of a bejewelled codpiece.’
The Times’ Dominic Maxwell (2★) felt the same: ‘Not for the first time here [at The Globe] the bright ideas are ahead of the production’s ability to sell them…It’s a strategically shallow reading that makes one of Shakespeare’s most fascinating villains into a 2D commentary on a certain kind of male.’

Critics’ Average Rating 3

Richard III can be seen at Shakespeare’s Globe until 3 August 2024. Buy tickets directly from

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