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A round-up of reviews for Richard III starring Martin Freeman at the Trafalgar Studios

Reviews of Richard III

Martin Freeman in Richard III

Martin Freeman in Richard III. Photo: Marc Brenner


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EARLY REVIEWS (Note: these are of preview performances, which is a practice not condoned by most legit press)
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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“This… is director’s theatre at its self-advertising worst, while Freeman gives a disappointingly underpowered performance as Richard, normally one of the most thrilling roles in Shakespeare.”

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STAR RATING The Guardian

“Jamie Lloyd is creating a way of doing Shakespeare at the transformed Trafalgar Studios. As with last year’s Macbeth, he has imported a star not immediately identified with Shakespeare, in this case Martin Freeman, set the action in a nightmarish modern Britain and piled on the visceral violence. But while Freeman’s presence will guarantee an audience of Hobbit fanciers and devout Sherlockians who on press night displayed none of the disruptive whooping reported at previews, the production doesn’t make total sense.”

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STAR RATING The Independent

“If the production doesn’t, for imaginative coherence, achieve the standard set by Lloyd’s Macbeth, I hope it won’t be long before Freeman broaches the Bard for a second time.”

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STAR RATING Variety

“Watching the infamous title character slash his way through his family tree en route to the throne in Shakespeare’s “Richard III” tends to be like entering a maze: You know where it’s headed but the journey is almost absurdly confusing. Not here. Jamie Lloyd’s vigorous production is remarkable for its fierce lucidity. It’s selling fast due to the casting of Martin Freeman (“The Hobbit,” “Sherlock”) but audiences are getting a whole lot more than just Freeman’s flinty, laser-like performance.”

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STAR RATING Financial Times

“Jamie Lloyd’s brash, bloody, exciting staging, with Martin Freeman at the helm, flips the tale of murder and Machiavellian tactics into the 1970s corridors of power, where people are despatched amid plates of sandwiches and fax machines.”

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“Martin Freeman is a smiling, self-satisfied Richard III – not the psychopath we tend to see, but instead an illustration of the banality of evil. He makes the hunchbacked monarch efficient and dapper, rather like a prim bureaucrat. Yet he punctuates this ordinariness with moments of malign mockery and savagery. It’s a crisp, thoughtful performance, in which Freeman successfully shakes off his familiar Nice Guy image. But he never seems truly dangerous.”

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STAR RATING The Stage

“Freeman himself is a genuinely nasty piece of work and as funny as Lloyd allows him to be. The scenes of gallows humour and mock refusals for the crown when offered are rather low-key, despite the house lights coming up to full and Freeman suddenly lurching about with a pronounced waddle, clasping a tape-recorder playing Gregorian chant to his chest.”

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