Adjoa Andoh reimagines Richard III’s ‘otherness’ in new version of play

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

LONDON (Reuters) – When actor Adjoa Andoh read William Shakespeare’s “Richard III” as a child, she was struck by how he was treated.


“I’m sort of 9 or 10 … I was outraged in the sort of way that children get outraged about the way that Shakespeare had unfairly represented this man and had people be vile to this man because of the way he looked,” Andoh told Reuters.

“As a child growing up in the Cotswolds in the 1960s, it was something I resonated with.”

Decades later, Andoh is starring in the lead role and directing her iteration of the play, set in the Cotswolds and in which Richard’s “otherness” is race rather than disability.

She is the only Black actress among the cast and rather than focus on the stereotypical evil character, she wanted to look at someone “who has been pushed and pulled in a certain way … and at a certain point goes ‘Ok no more of this. I will make my mark'”.

She emphasised she was not changing the language or the text of the play or playing Richard as a woman, but “doing it in this frame and through this lens”. 

Andoh, whose portrayal of Richard comes to London’s Rose Theatre after a run in Liverpool, shot to global fame as Lady Danbury in Netflix period drama “Bridgerton”, a role she reprises in the spin-off “Queen Charlotte” released next week.

“Bridgerton” was a huge hit upon its release in 2020 and won praise for its diverse cast.

“It’s a style of drama that people may be familiar with … it’s a style of costume drama that some people may have swerved mightily and this has given an extra little edge to it… that may draw people in a different way,” she said.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alison Williams)