Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kevin Spacey as Richard III

Last night I had the unexpected good fortune to see The Bridge Project's Richard III, starring Kevin Spacey. Mr. Spacey engaged the audience from the 1st moments. As he slumped in a chair, watching a video of his brother's coronation, he shared his contempt & sarcastic humor with us. His delivery was forceful & rhetorical, & he moved around swiftly, despite a metal brace holding his leg in a twisted position. He was fully invested in the part for the entire 3+ hours, & I was close enough to see the sweat. He let the audience partake in Richard's pleasure at being evil but never let us like him.

The Bridge Project brings together American & British actors, so the cast spoke in a variety of accents. I liked Chuk Iwuji as a cool & capable Buckingham. He communicates the text clearly & is also very funny. Haydn Gwynne was a dignified Elizabeth & spoke urgently. Gemma Jones had a classical delivery, & her Margaret was like a supernatural presence. The casting of 2 women as the young princes worked well.

The cast is in modern dress, & the action takes place on a bare wooden floor surrounded by a wall of doors. There are blackouts & projected titles between scenes, starting with the word "NOW" for the opening. The scene where Richard appears between 2 bishops is comically staged with Richard appearing on a giant video screen, as though caught by a hidden camera. The cries of the citizens come from the back of the auditorium, as if the audience is entreating Richard. I also liked the black humor of the nobles greeting the young Prince Edward with balloons.

The cast was a well-drilled army, & the show's pace never lingered. There was live percussion music, sometimes by the actors on stage, who drummed with excellent synchrony. The audience stayed focused the entire time, excited to see Mr. Spacey, & they gave him a standing ovation. The Curran Theatre was of course packed, & I felt like I was in a crowded elevator the whole evening.

§ Richard III
William Shakespeare

The Bridge Project
Director, Sam Mendes

Maureen Anderman
Stephen Lee Anderson
Jeremy Bobb
Nathan Darrow
Jack Ellis
Haydn Gwynne
Chuk Iwuji
Isaiah Johnson
Gemma Jones
Andrew Long
Katherine Manners
Howard W Overshown
Simon Lee Phillips
Gary Powell
Michael Rudko
Annabel Scholey
Kevin Spacey
Gavin Stenhouse
Hannah Stokely
Chandler Williams

25 October 2011, 7:30p
Curran Theatre

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