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RICHARD III OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS
Opening Night: January 10, 2012
Synopsis: Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey owns the stage as Shakespeare's outrageous villain Richard III. At the climax of the Wars of the Roses, Richard watches his brother ascend the throne of England and confides in us--with all the profound bitterness of an outcast born with a hunchback and malformed leg--his intention to seize the crown. Navigating an imposing assemblage of some of Shakespeare's greatest female characters, Richard--played brilliantly by the mercurial and mordantly funny Spacey--lusts for power, assuring his own bloody rise and fall.
Academy Award winner Sam Mendes directs the transatlantic cast in the final production of The Bridge Project, a three-year partnership uniting BAM, The Old Vic, and Neal Street.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:
"Oh, Mr. Romney, have you met Richard, Duke of Gloucester? A front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination might benefit from a sit-down with the title character of “Richard III,” or the version of him that is being embodied with all-conquering audacity by Kevin Spacey at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. "
"To Kevin Spacey, the role of Richard III must seem irresistible. After all, Shakespeare's hunchbacked antihero, who plots and kills his way to the English crown, has many of the traits the star has portrayed repeatedly on film and stage: He's physically challenged, hyperarticulate, shrewd, and more than a little bit wicked. In director Sam Mendes' uneven modern-dress revival of Richard III, which runs through March 4 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the actor plays a kind of über-Spacey. It's an old-fashioned star turn with undeniable showmanship. Subtlety, however, is in short supply."
"Talk about demonic office tyrants! Take the cruel on-screen figure Kevin Spacey recently played in Horrible Bosses, multiply the character by 10, and you begin to get the strength of his indelible interpretation of the title character in William Shakespeare's Richard III, now being presented by the Bridge Project at BAM. "
"Give Kevin Spacey a gnarly gait and a hidden agenda, and ain’t we got fun? Spacey — now playing the title tyrant in Sam Mendes’ new Richard III, the final installment of the Bridge Project — seems like he’s been rehearsing all his life to slip into that infamous, hunchbacked silhouette. A facile and fanciful critic might even see licks of Richard in Verbal Kint, the similarly bent, famously unreliable narrator from The Usual Suspects. But that was then: This, as Mendes’ opening title card informs us, is NOW. We meet Richard splayed in a chair, the shrapnel of a victory party scattered around him, his bum leg cricked almost perpendicular to itself in a formidable jointed brace that’s straight from the V section of Villains 'R' Us (“Vader” through “Von Stroheim”). In the midst of his familiar opening imprecation (“Now is the winter of our discontent / made glorious summer by this son of York”), out pops an insectoid cane and up jumps Richard, his crabbed posture and speedy scuttling immediately suggestive of Class Arachnida: He practically leaps into the audience, and smiles ruefully when we flinch. Spacey’s physical re-creation of himself is utterly flawless, dangerously transfixing. He’s a species apart from every other being onstage. Part imp, part satyr, part maniac, he can barely hide his devil-child’s glee at his own eeeevil, even from the many soon-to-be victims unlucky enough to find themselves standing between him and the throne. He pragmatically conceals his fangs, but discretion does not really become him: This Richard is a homicidal show pony. Which more or less sums up everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong about this finely and feistily staged, cunningly lit and designed, yet strangely tetherless production."
"The final presentation in the three-year, trans-Atlantic classical repertory venture, the Bridge Project, Sam Mendes’ vigorously nasty staging of Richard III doesn’t stint on theatricality. Subtlety is in shorter supply. But that shouldn’t hinder the enjoyment of audiences salivating over the prospect of Kevin Spacey pulling out all the stops as Shakespeare’s most villainous bully."
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