TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: Richard III at BAM
Get caught up with what’s on stage with our review round-up. And that vaguely hollow, clinking sound you hear at the end of each segment? That’s me tossing in my two cents.
Director Sam Mendes‘ multi-year, globe-circling Bridge Project, devoted to cross-Atlantic collaborations on classic plays, makes its final stop with Kevin Spacey starring in Shakespeare’s thriller-like, historical bloodbath.
“Mr. Spacey…dares to evoke the barnstorming actor-managers of a century ago. And though I’m just as happy that this tradition has died out, it’s a hoot to watch someone of Mr. Spacey’s skill revive it with such blazing brazenness and force of will.” New York Times
“…this final installment of the trans-Atlantic Bridge Project follows a well-trodden path, down to the clichéd use of Nazi-like uniforms.” New York Post
“No matter that Shakespeare wrote the play in the 1590s…this history is as fresh and provocative as a slap in the face…” USA Today
“…the actor plays a kind of über-Spacey. It’s an old-fashioned star turn with undeniable showmanship. Subtlety, however, is in short supply.” Entertainment Weekly
Mizer’s Two Cents: As they say in legal dramas, I have to recuse myself on this one; my longtime writing partner Curtis Moore is the associate composer and is playing the show (give him a wave up in the box, house left; he’s sitting behind his keyboard and likely texting someone) so my feelings might be just a wee bit compromised. I will say that, while Spacey is the marquee draw in a sure to be much-debated, boldly-playing-to-the-groundlings performance as the sociopathic schemer, I have a soft spot for two of his co-stars who have been less trumpeted in the pre-show buzz. Haydn Gwynne, last seen stateside Tony-nominated as Billy Elliot’s haggard but loving dance teacher, finds an emotional core in this early Shakespeare play (a play that can feel part downward spiraling history, part Elizabethan shooting gallery…Bang! Dead! Next!). As Queen Elizabeth she slowly reveals the wear and tear of treachery and goes toe-to-toe with Spacey in the production’s best scene. And Gemma Jones erases all warm, fuzzy memories of her turn as Kate and Emma’s loving Mum in the glorious film Sense and Sensibility, playing the malevolent fury, Queen Margaret; she skulks and skitters around the corners of the show, awaiting her revenge with ghoulish, magnetic pleasure.