top of page

The Tragedy
Richard III

Presented in association with the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, Artscape, The Market Theatre and the International Shakespeare Festival, Craiova

Playwright: William Shakespeare

Direction, Set & Lighting Design: Fred Abrahamse

Costume Design: Marcel Meyer

Soundscape: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder

Photography: Fiona MacPherson, Pat Bromilow-Downing & Sean Bennet

2010 Cast: Marcel Meyer, David Dennis, Darron Araujo

2011 Cast: Marcel Meyer, David Dennis, Anelisa Phewa

2014 Cast: Marcel Meyer, David Dennis, Nicholas Dallas

Venues:  National Arts Festival, Grahamstown [2010] Artscape Arena and Market Theatre [2011], The International Shakespeare Festival, Craiova, Romania [2014]

About: A three-actor staging of William Shakespeare classic play.

What the Press said:

“Fred Abrahamse’s Richard III is the best mainstream production of Shakespeare that I have seen for at least seven or eight years… an accessible, deeply engrossing production… This is by far the best-spoken Shakespeare I have seen produced in this city. It is a stunning achievement.” NEXT 48 HOURS


“An edgy and boundary-busting interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Richard III…Cutting-edge and boldly conceived, this is a Shakespeare for our times. Keeping faithful to the original text, this brave and progressive staging should attract a new audience hungry to see classical texts brought to life with such innovative flourish.” BUSINESS DAY

“William Shakespeare innovator and experimenter with form would have placed his stamp of approval on this innovative Cape Town production, utilising only three actors, masks and marionettes to represent the bloody saga of Richard III. In director Fred Abrahamse’s daring production it is essentially the beautiful costumes and life-like masks that steal the scene. It is in essence these imposing creations, a playful mixture of sadomasochistic erotica and gothic fairy-tale that enable the trio of actors to quickly and convincingly change into a myriad of characters.” DIE BEELD


“Abrahamse has created a fast-paced Gothic tale set in an all-black Tim Burtonesque landscape. It is a daring and bold theatrical experiment” THE SUNDAY TIMES

The Tragedy of Richard III is both a gripping portrayal and an ingenious production. Eerie metallic music sets the scene, the banners of York and Lancaster, white rose and red, flank the castle walls. The set is simple and effective and layered with symbolism – the Boar of Gloucester, Richard’s badge, a scarred mirror in which he sees the image the world sees, the trophy chamber within that becomes his scorecard, filled with both gloating and guilt. You can read what you wish into this inventive production. Richard III has a sizeable cast and the beauty and ingenuity of this production is that it is conveyed – brilliantly – by only three actors. A brilliant introduction to the master.”



The Tragedy of Richard III comes highly recommended as an intellectual and visual theatrical

experience.” THE STAR

“Fred Abrahamse’s The Tragedy of Richard III brilliantly brings to life what on paper can be a convoluted and confusing read. Accessible yet densely layered with symbolism, the play still poses the question of predeterminism versus free will, but you will only see that long after you have recovered from the visceral shock of this powerful play.” CAPE ARGUS

“From the moment he declaims “now is the winter of our discontent” until he promises his kingdom for a horse, Richard III is one of the ultimate villains to ever set foot on a stage and Meyer plays the part to a T” CAPE ARGUS


“Marcel Meyer’s performance as Richard is intense, from the moment he embarks on the famous opening speeches of the role. Like the dissonance between beauty and ugliness in the design, his physical youth and good looks offset the horrifying inner compulsions that gradually surface as the story unfolds.” CUE


“Marcel Meyer is outstanding as Shakespeare’s greatest villain. He impresses with Richard’s dual-personality - slimy, ingratiating and then in the blink of an eye biting, venomous and unthinkably evil.”  DIE BURGER


“Dennis’s astounding performance in particular will echo in the minds of theatregoers for years and years to come.” NEXT 48 HOURS

“David Dennis’s commendable portrayal of a half-dozen characters is a master class in voice work and poetic interpretation. Each character is a rounded human being, detailed, without an inkling of caricature - his aging Duchess of York and his delicate Lady Anne illicit respect and empathy.” DIE BEELD


Best Supporting Actor – David Dennis [win]

Best Costume Design – Marcel Meyer [win]

Best Set Design – Fred Abrahamse [nomination]

Best Lighting Design – Fred Abrahamse [nomination]

Best Original Score/Soundscape – Charl-Johan Lingenfelder [nomination]

Best Puppetry Design – Hillette Stapelberg [nomination]

In 2013 Peter Tromp, leading critic of THE NEXT 48 HOURS lists RICHARD III as his favourite Shakespeare productions of the decade 2003 – 2013, and David Dennis’s performance as one of the top performances of the decade, in celebration of his 10th anniversary as critic.

bottom of page