Reviews are out for the new production of Shakespeare’s Richard III directed by and starring Adjoa Andoh (Lady Danbury in Bridgerton), at the Liverpool Playhouse, and the Rose Theatre in Kingston.
The production runs at the Liverpool Playhouse until 22 April 2023, and then the Rose Theatre in Kingston from 26 April to 13 May 2023.
The cast includes Adjoa Andoh in the title role of Richard III, alongside Antonie Azor (Ratcliffe), Clive Brill (Hastings), Harry Clarke (Catesby), Sam Cox (Stanley), Josh Day (Dorset/Edward, Son of Clarence/Prince Edward/York(Puppet)/Captain Blunt), Daniel Hawksford (Brackenbury/Edward IV/Richmond), Liz Kettle (Queen Margaret), Joseph Kloska (Buckingham), Robin Morrissey (Rivers/Cardinal Bouchier/Oxford), Caroline Parker (Elizabeth, Duchess of York), Oliver Ryan (Clarence/Archbishop/Mayor/Norfolk), Rachel Sanders (Elizabeth Woodville), and Phoebe Shepherd (Lady Anne).
Book tickets to Richard III at the Rose Theatre Kingston in London
UPDATED: Originally posted 13 April 2023; updated on 28 April for reviews from the play’s Rose Theatre run in London
Richard III reviews
"Adjoa Andoh’s maverick reimagining drags" (Liverpool Playhouse)
"The actor and director pitches the antihero as a racial outsider. She is compelling, but he is an inconsistent character in a production leached of intrigue"
"This production, tracing the rise and fall of Shakespeare’s “rudely stamp’d” antihero, follows Adjoa Andoh’s blazing performance as Richard II four years ago in a feted re-envisioning.."
"Andoh is surrounded by a cast of mainly white, middle-aged men... drawing Richard as an isolated and othered outsider nonetheless. The problem is that it is difficult to see this most baroque of villains in a sympathetic light. Andoh’s Richard is always compelling to watch, deep-throated one minute, screeching the next, but he seems like an inconsistent character."
"... the comedy confuses and distances, as does the decision to present the young Duke of York (one of the two princes in the tower) as a puppet. There is a distinct lack of movement on stage too and actors often stand in static, inert lines, and the set barely changes."
"Adjoa Andoh hams it up in wayward production" (Liverpool Playhouse)
"Adjoa Andoh pulls out all the stops in her portrayal of Richard III as a man wreaking havoc on a West Country world that has marginalised him because of his blackness."
"Andoh is a marvellous actress but this is a bad performance. By directing the show as well as playing the largest role in Shakespeare, she has allowed herself to go from daringly bold to outright hammy."
"The folky music, by Andoh’s brother Yeofi, starting with a choral version of the “now is the winter of our discontent” speech, is beguilingly unsettling."
"The ideas are interesting. The execution is inconsistent. With everyone dressed similarly, with hierarchies and settings left vague and performances hitting all registers, it’s hard to latch onto what’s going on, let alone what to feel about it all."
"Adjoa Andoh’s bloodthirsty king is a villain for our times" (Liverpool Playhouse)
"This humane, distinctive Richard III reaffirms the Bridgerton star as a great Shakespeare re-inventor"
"Is it possible to make an audience empathise with Shakespeare’s tyrannical Richard III? Adjoa Andoh gives it a good go in her fresh new adaptation..."
"As brother to the sitting king, Edward IV, one could question how punched down upon Richard really is. And yet something in Andoh’s wide-eyed charisma and relatively diminutive stature – she is shorter than the rest of the cast, thus constantly looking up at them – makes one forget initially that right from the outset of the play Richard is scheming to fulfil his own bitter ambition."
"Andoh, playing male and with her woman’s form othering Richard further in a world of male nobility, is outstanding. Her slithering duplicity as a male villain sits in perfect contrast to the rooted force of the maternal love and female fury spat back at Richard by the women whose husbands and children he has slain."
"Adjoa Andoh makes a formidable Richard" (Rose Theatre Kingston)
"Adjoa Andoh’s vivid vision animates this flawed but thoughtful production"
"Putting a fresh spin on Shakespeare’s classic story of an outsider seizing power over a community that treats him with disdain, this production – directed by and starring acclaimed actor Adjoa Andoh – intriguingly blends the bucolic with the macabre. At the end of its bloody civil war, the England of Andoh’s vision is full of beauty and violence, all fluttering maypole ribbons and squawking crows, pretty flower crowns and severed heads."
"There is plenty of welcome humour woven into the piece, but an overemphasis on physical comedy, song and dance breaks occasionally distracts from the high tragedy we are witnessing."
"Andoh makes a formidable, mercurial Richard; her quavering voice pitched between laughter and tears, she wears his heart on his sleeve. Worlds away from the sly schemer of some depictions, this is a vigorous, desperate and deeply sympathetic villain."
"Adjoa Andoh follows up her excellent Richard II with this messy, malfunctioning take on his diabolical namesake" (Rose Theatre Kingston)
"It’s very promising in theory, following on as it does from her acclaimed 2019 production of ‘Richard II’ at the Globe. But perhaps because it lacks the steadying hand of the previous production’s co-director Lynette Linton, this ultimately acomes across as a mismatch of badly braided visions."
"Andoh is still a beguiling actor. Her Richard dances between knowing comedy and diabolical scheming. His lines are delivered with zip and zeal. Her eyes bulge, wide, as she speaks. With such exuberance, Richard’s charm bubbles to the surface. What we don’t get though is his innate rage and desire to prove himself after years subjected to isolation and torment - and in a rendition that relies so heavily on his otherness, we need it."