David Tennant's 'mesmerising' Richard II – reviews
Former Doctor Who star Tennant is 'electrifying' as Shakespeare's flawed king at RSC
What you need to know
Critics have called David Tennant's performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company's new production of Richard II "mesmerising" and "electrifying". Tennant is best known for his TV roles in Doctor Who and Broadchurch.
This production of Shakespeare's Richard II, directed by Gregory Doran, is part of a new cycle of history plays at the RSC. The play spans the last two years of Richard's life and reveals how the king's weaknesses of character and errors of judgement threaten his kingdom and lead to his downfall.
Runs until 16 November at Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. The show will be broadcast live to cinemas across the UK on 13 November, and transfers to the Barbican on 9 December.
What the critics like
Tennant gives a "mesmerising" performance that grows in power as Richard's authority declines, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. His great achievement is that he manages attract our sympathy as a "wasteful king" who abuses power when he has it and who achieves tragic dignity only in his downfall.
"What Tennant does, brilliantly, is to suggest a man who feels as hollow as his crown," says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. He play acts at being himself, makes bad judgments and goes from ruler to martyr - it's electrifying.
Tennant does not disappoint, delivering "a vivid, intelligent performance, at least as mesmerising as the best of his TV work", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. His Richard is excitingly unpredictable and as his authority crumbles he transforms intriguingly from a gilded tyrant into a more vulnerable character.
What they don't like
The production is more reverent than radical and at the beginning feels slow and steady to a fault, says Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph. "Tennant shines, but he has shone brighter." ·