Review of Richard III

I honestly did not know what to expect from a production of Richard III, so I, like my usual problem-solving self, decided not to have any expectations – essentially, I tried to not to hold any preconceived notions so I could see the play in the most objective way possible.

Shakespeare’s histories were new to me and, while the story was intriguing, I didn’t understand why everyone was so eager to see this “Haysam” person (I learned something then: never assume that it’s just a play when an entire AP class is excited to see it.)

Looking back, I can’t even fathom why I would have ever thought that. Watching the play come to life at the Vertigo Studio theater made it into a true experience – a very enjoyable one.

Now I will not even attempt to be impartial. After all, this is a review – I don’t have to be.

A quick summary:

The play begins with a soliloquy, in which Richard III (Haysam Kadri) announces his villainous intentions. We are quickly absorbed by the bloodthirsty thoughts of Richard, which are juxtaposed with his pleasant interactions with his brothers Clarence (Elinor Holt) and King Edward (Jason Schneider). He wants them both dead.

Meanwhile, Queen Margaret (Natascha Girgis) angrily curses the family that took her husband’s throne.

Richard woos the recently widowed Lady Anne (Amy Burks) over the body of the dead king – a rather aggressive tactic, but  effective.1297882032181_original1

The power-hungry Duke of Buckingham (Kevin Corey) and Catesby (Brianna Johnston) both aid Richard in his quest. Through manipulation, deceit, and several murders, Richard ascends to the throne.

He then kills his two nephews and Lady Anne, and tries to marry his niece, Elizabeth.

All of the people Richard murdered appear in his nightmare. He is killed in a battle against Richmond, who is then crowned King Henry VII.


I found that two characters particularly stood out in the play: Richard III and Queen Margaret.

Richard is one of the most compelling villains in all of Shakespeare’s works, and this is only enhanced by Kadri’s performance. We see that, despite his deformed leg, Richard is fairly nimble – this hints at his misleading nature. The portrayal of his flaws and regrets in the production make him almost relatable, and, at times, perhaps even likeable. Seeing how his performance captivated the audience only proves that Kadri is a true expert in villainy.

Throughout the play, Queen Margaret curses the family that killed her husband and sons. Girgis’s depiction of the bitter queen is chilling; her presence haunts the stage and the mind’s of the audience. As a woman, she lacks political power; however, that is offset by her curses. Queen Margaret is the embodiment of all the suffering that happens as a result of the horrible actions that characters take. Girgis was an ideal match for the role because her acting was unsettling and eerie.

A few of the smaller roles in the production were somewhat uninteresting. The contrast between their acting and that of characters such as Richard III was quite stark. It was somewhat disappointing, but perfect acting is very elusive – overall, it did not detract too much from the play. It only “poked holes” in the immersive experience created by the other actors. The same can be said of some of the clothes – they lacked the same care and planning put into the other costumes. I think that they could have been more true to the time period.


I found the set design to be very interesting. The change in lighting and focus on Richard was an excellent way to show his inner thoughts. I think this added to the almost surreal effect created by the music and sounds, particularly at the start of the play. The crooked throne and pillars on the stage matched well with Richard’s deformity and the nature of his ascension to the throne. The use of fog in the dream that Richard was effective and added to the mood of the scene. I liked how the flags that were projected onto the backdrop at the ending of the play merged – that visual represented what was happening onstage. The incorporation of props was very smooth; I distinctly remember the variety of ways that benches were used, as well as the sickening “thump” I heard when the sack with the head inside was thrown.

For overall enjoyment, I would give this production a 9.5/10. Despite some of the slight flaws that I saw, Kadri’s acting had me absolutely ensnared. I could tell how power-hungry and ambitious Richard by just watching him. When the actors become their role, nothing else matters as much as the characters. I find that this is the most important aspect that I look for, particularly if plays have complex characters like Richard III.

Director Ron Jenkins hit the nail on the head with this play. I loved it.


Image sources:–which-will-come-in-handy-for-richard-iii

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4 thoughts on “Review of Richard III

  1. Dear Tarannum,

    Wow! I loved reading your review of Richard III at Vertigo Theatre. It brought to the table many aspects of the play, and reminded me of all the amazing little details that I had once forgotten.
    In your summary of William Shakespeare’s work, I felt as though you were straight and to the point. In a review, this is exactly what is necessary! The main focus is your feelings on the play, so absolutely – job well done!!!

    I’d also like to mention the sentence you used in beginning your piece. It gave me the feel of a true article, and I absolutely loved the structure of it.

    It is interesting to read your take on some of the characters and the play itself. I love to dive into the world of others and their minds; so, I’m incredibly happy to have heard the amazing intellect in which you possess. I also love that you were able to bring in a few kind criticisms; ones in which held great respect for the actors but still gave the feel of a true article.

    One thing I would like to point out is how much you addressed what stood out in Richard the Third and Queen Margaret. This may be my personal opinion, but I would love to hear more about how you felt their acting assisted in this. It was there, but I wanted even more! I love to hear your opinions. Critics tend to balance out what was special about the actors and what was special about the play overall. I personally saw more of what was special in the play, although I still love this piece and rejoice in its wonderful writer.

    I look forward to hearing more from you in class and your future works here on the blog!! 🙂


  2. Dear Elissa,

    Thank you for reading my blog! The fact that you took the time to comment means a lot to me. I am so grateful.

    Let’s continue to support each other, okay? Grade 10s need to stick together. 🙂

    ~ Tarannum

  3. Tarannum,
    First of all, I have to say that your attention to detail in this piece was impressive. Even though this is your first year in AP English, you’ve managed to notice and criticise several elements in the play that even I didn’t catch. You covered all of the bases that make up a proper review, which made the piece almost feel like a real theatre review that could be published. You also took the time to add in a quick summary of the play, which could be helpful to those who didn’t fully understand the plot. Along with this, you even put in the actor’s names, which shows that you put a lot of effort into this reviews. I liked that you added in a remark about the scene between Richard and Lady Anne, which I found to be rather amusing. Although in a lot of reviews, doing something like this would maybe break the professional sounding tone of the review, this wasn’t the case with you, which goes to show that you’re a strong writer.
    One thing that I would suggest to you, like Elissa said above, is to maybe have a more in depth criticism of the actors. You mentioned how Margaret and Richard were strong actors, but you found that some of the other actors were rather weak. I’d like to hear why you found them to be not as good as Margaret in Richard, as with a review, it’s good to back up your opinions with evidence.
    Overall, this was an excellent piece of writing that I found highly enjoyable to read, and I look forward to seeing more from you 🙂
    – Genevieve

    1. Dear Genevieve,

      I really appreciate your kind words! Comments like yours remind me of how amazing this AP class is. Everyone is so supportive!

      The different glows and grows you gave me are very helpful. Thank you!


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