Richard III

Content Group

Richard III: Edwin Booth as Richard III

This play has been one of Shakespeare's most popular, entirely because of the evil brilliance of its villain hero, Richard Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Inheriting the Tudor blackening of the king whom Henry VII overthrew, Shakespeare turned him into the evil genius epitomising the vices that led to the self-destruction of the Plantagenet dynasty in the War of the Roses. Richard's opening soliloquy entraps audiences in his point of view, reinforced by his black humor at the expense of his often culpable victims, and enjoying his unexpected sexual and political triumphs despite his physical handicaps. Only when his malice is turned to innocent victims like the princes in the Tower do we begin an alienation climaxed at his defeat by the future Henry VII. This distancing is aided by the curses of the various queens and mothers he has offended. From the recorded triumph of Shakespeare's first Richard, Richard Burbage, the play has initiated a legion of great actors, including David Garrick, Edmund Kean, Laurence Olivier, and Antony Sher. Though the play is usually performed in historically appropriate costumes and settings, Ian McKellen succeeded in a production updated to a potentially Nazi Britain in the 1930s.

Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1984
Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1984
Richard III, English Shakespeare Company, 1989
Richard III, National Theatre, London, 1990
Richard III, London Films, 1955
Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1984
Richard III, National Theatre Company, 1990
Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1985
King Richard III, Globe Theatre, 1889
Henry VI, Berkeley Shakespeare Program, 1979
Richard III, Berkeley Shakespeare Program, 1979
Queen Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482), Wife of Henry VI
Richard III, Richard Mansfield as King Richard III, 1889
Richard III, London Films, 1955
Richard III, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1963
Richard III, Peggy Ashcroft as Queen Margaret, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1963


Essay Title Author
"Richard III" as 'a Tragedy with a Happy Ending' Hugh Richmond

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