The Theater: Old Play in Manhattan, Feb. 21, 1949

Richard III (by William Shakespeare; produced by Herman Levin) is one of Shakespeare's poorer plays but plushier stage pieces. So incessantly and ostentatiously villainous is the deformed, usurping Richard that down the centuries the role has been a temptation for every gaudy actor and a triumph for a number of good ones.

Richard III is prentice Shakespeare (some have argued that it is not all his) and in it the early Bard catches only the surfaces of evil. But he gives Richard two thoroughly vivid characteristics: a malign, gloating wit and a flamboyant love of effect. The role is an actor's...

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