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The last time Kevin Spacey and director Sam Mendes teamed up, Spacey won an Oscar for his performance in “American Beauty.” The two are back in business in a propulsive modern dress revival of “Richard III”. I was causally browsing the SISTIC ticketing website one night and chanced upon The Bridge Project - Richard III in Singapore, starring Academy Award winner, Kevin Spacey in the lead role. Limited tickets were going at S$40! I immediately bought a pair not thinking twice to what would be sold-out shows.

It was a work of Shakespeare, the 3rd and final installment of the Bridge Project brought in by SRT (following The Tempest and The Winter's Tale), Sam Mendes and Kevin Spacey. It was an instant recipe for theater success.

I must admit, Richard III was definitely a lesser known Shakespeare to me. The story depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of King Richard III of England from 1483 - 1485. Richard III was malicious, power-hungry, and bitter with his physical deformity. The first half of the play, portrayed a deformed Richard III sporting a leg brace, a humpback and an ironic canary-eating grin. He plots his murderous way to the throne held by his brother King Edward IV. The second half was like a sledgehammer pounding away at what has already been crushed.

Indeed, there was something incredibly complex about Spacey's Richard; even as we saw the depths of his iniquity and grow increasingly repulsed by his actions, there was a macabre sense of being drawn in and, like Lady Anne, seduced by his magnetism. His constant self-loathing induces pity; one's heart goes out to him as he trips on his way to the throne during his coronation and then hastily gets up, waving any help away and goes on to crown himself. This was a man intensely aware of his own dastardly actions and hideous appearance and this only goads him to heights of new evil, ordering the execution of his two young nephews and viciously stabbing the severed head of Hastings when it is brought to him in a box.

Mendes' staging had a thrilling momentum and vivid simplicity. Scenes were signposted with the names of characters who tend to be at the receiving end of Richard's baleful attention. Large-screen televisions zooms in on Spacey's face and coupled with heckling "citizens" planted at all the corners of the theatre, acquires a fiercely humorous resonance. The action was presented with a swiftness that reminded us that these Elizabethan history plays were prototypes for modern day action movies. The production design, distinguished by Paul Pyant's lighting and Jon Driscoll's projections, conjured a landscape of hallucinatory menace. But the broad outlines of the tale were so emphatically pronounced that a child could tell at a glance the good guys from the bad.

Examine all the things in your own life you regret, the people that you've misused, the unkindnesses that you've done, you have to kind of unearth all the worst in your life and then go: 'Here, I'm going to share this with you'. - Kevin Spacey

Probably one of the best S$40 I've spent. Catching Spacey live was simply exhilarating.

More Pictures of Kevin Spacey in Richard III - The Bridge Project

Theatre and Performances

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