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- Shakespeare's history exudes foreboding and bitter humor, and feels operatic in the scope of its tragedy. As King Richard III, Kenneth Branagh deftly handles Shakespeare's twists and turns of language, particularly in Richard's lightning-fast transitions from rhetoric-filled, florid speeches to devious and cunning asides spoken directly to the audience. The supporting cast is equally strong, witheringly criticizing Richard in his presence and expressing their resigned grief and unchecked rage at his terrible actions in his absence. Occasional sound effects--a clock striking, a sword being drawn from its scabbard--add to the sensation of being present for a bare-bones production, on a mostly empty stage, where the language becomes the focus and the performances paramount. J.M.D. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
- Booklist “Opening with the prophetic ‘Now is the winter of our discontent,’ King Richard III features Kenneth Branagh as the machiavellian Richard Duke of Gloucester who plots to seize the throne. With a top-notch professional cast, appropriate music, and well-chosen sound effects, this title transport listeners to the theater”
- KLIATT “This audio offers an ideal package: a play that is still compelling and thought-provoking 400 years after it was written; a fully dramatized performance that is consistently excellent; and accompanying print materials that are comprehensive-including a scene-by-scene synopsis and notes on the background, theme, characterizations and language. Highly recommended.”
- AudioFile Magazine “As King Richard III, Kenneth Branagh deftly handles Shakespeare’s twists and turns of language, particularly in Richard’s lightning-fast transitions from rhetoric-filled, florid speeches to devious and cunning asides spoken directly to the audience. The supporting cast is equally strong, witheringly criticizing Richard in his presence and expressing their resigned grief and unchecked rage at his terrible actions in his absence. Occasional sound effects - a clock striking, a sword being drawn from its scabbard - add to the sensation of being present for a bare-bones production, on a mostly empty stage, where the language becomes the focus and the performances paramount.”
- Los Angeles Times “If you need a tale to stir your blood, check out [this] production of King Richard III ,by William Shakespeare, starring Kenneth Branagh in the title role. A top-notch cast of British actors breathes fire and passion into one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays. Branagh shines as the Machiavellian prince determined to have the throne of England for himself, destroying those who stand in his way. Branagh captures the character’s brilliance and persuasiveness. The rest of the cast, especially Michael Maloney, Stella Gonet and Celia Imrie, is equal to Branagh’s performance. As with all Naxos productions, this is enlivened with classical music. Several pieces by Janacek and a Russian Chant for Vespers enhance the play without overpowering the dialogue.”
“Naxos AudioBooks’ production of Shakespeare’s King Richard III provides much more than a recitation of the play. The dramatization is performed by Kenneth Branagh and a full cast of 20.
The liner notes give information about the cast members, describe each cassette with act and scene information, and indicate the beginning of each major speech. The background and synopsis of the play are given, along with the central theme, characters and characterization, and notes on language.”
- Midwest Record Recap “More like a full theatrical radio presentations than a book on tape. They might have pinched pennies by using Shakespeare as the source material, but this full-bodied cast with music puts Cliff Notes to shame. Even non-Bard fans could easily give this a turn and find it quite enjoyable. The classic work is given fine play and it’s enjoyable by more than hard core PBS types.”
- Sunday (Harrisburg, PA) Patriot News “Don’t miss Naxos’ production of William Shakespeare’s King Richard III , complete with full-cast dramatization, music and an enclosed playbill. This one will spoil listeners who like high-quality audio productions.”
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