Kevin Spacey in Richard III

I caught the last Sydney performance of Richard III this afternoon, played by Kevin Spacey and his company from London’s Old Vic, and directed by filmmaker Sam Mendes. It was bloody good.

Shakespeare’s tale of twisted evil was faithfully scripted, though in a semi-modern setting. Spacey is a camp, chuckling, mugging-to-the-audience villain. He insinuates layers of malice and fear, of ambition spawned at the moment his broken body was born. Most of the other actors were good, too, although a couple weren’t projecting quite enough for the size of the Lyric Theatre.

Spacey mostly played to the cheap seats, though. This was good for me because that’s where I was, all the way at the back. But I know some people – and probably those near the front – found it a bit shouty. That works for me, because in the second act Richard gets angry. He gets furious. He doesn’t remain scheming throughout; his vile deeds start to catch up with him, and he begins to lash out and ends up collapsing upon himself. His murderous duplicity gives way to murderous rage, and it seems entirely suitable that he ratchets the yelling up a few notches. Some others agree.

Fun theatre.

Kevin Spacey as Richard III


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