Tuesday, July 26, 2011
London is famous for theater. From big name musicals in the West End to experimental plays at Sadler’s Wells, the city has no shortage of theatrical entertainment. The shows that sell out the most quickly are the ones in which celebrities play the leading roles. Which is why I’m glad I bought tickets to see Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the Old Vic theater in London months ago.
Richard III is my favorite Shakespeare play. When I read it in high school English class, my teacher showed the class video clips of a wide variety of productions, each with a unique portrayal of the sinister protagonist. As such, I was excited to see how the show at the Old Vic would compare.
The play opened to outstanding reviews, and when I arrived on Sunday afternoon the returns queue wound all the way around the block. I was happy to skip it, collect my tickets, and find my seat.
When the curtain rose, it exposed a simple set and a modern setting which left the actors to carry the show. And carry it they did.
The acting of Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the Old Vic was excellent. From his crumpled gait to his diabolical delivery, he brought the character to life. The rest of the cast was equally talented, from the maniacal Queen Margaret to the poor princes.
The staging was also unique. The scene where Richard is called on to be king showed Buckingham at a podium on the stage while the penitent Richard appeared on a large screen. It was as if to suggest he was reluctantly letting his religious proceedings be interrupted, but only via teleconference.
With a running time of three-and-a-half hours, Richard III was a long production. It was anything but tedious, though. The action went swiftly, the scene changes expediently, and the sole intermission efficiently. When it came time for the curtain call, I was sad to see it end.
But there are plenty more showings this summer, and I’m tempted to brave the returns queue and see Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the Old Vic again.