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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at BAM Harvey Theatre


  Kevin Spacey/ Ph: Joan Marcus

Regal treachery, dastardly deeds and murderous designs dominate a compelling production of Shakespeare's Richard III at BAM in Brooklyn. The Bridge Project presentation at the Harvey Theater is a production of BAM, The Old Vic and Neal Street. The requisite villainy is eloquently served by Kevin Spacey with reptilian malevolence and a lascivious dose of insinuating wit. Spacey, the artistic director of The Old Vic since 2003, is a most persuasive scoundrel. With a small hump over his right shoulder and dragging a twisted left leg, he is a spidery, transparent villain, spewing the Bard's venom with revel.
As staged by Sam Mendes, the action is played out on a wide barren space sandwiched by a dozen doors, which provide a functional setting for the courtly intrigue. The visual imagery offers a startling contemporary texture with actors stripped of colorful togs, appearing rather in subtle and dark modern threads. The action is accompanied by the ominous rattle of timpani and bongos and a full thundering drum corps accompany the “bottled spider” on his stumbling path to the throne.
The text is served in waves of clarity, eliminating confusion in the chronicle of English history. The Bard's women are sharply illuminated here. Annabel Scholey is Edward's widow, Lady Anne, who despises Richard but is ultimately wooed and won over by his persistent ardor. She offers a convincing balance of defiance and willowy grace. Gemma Jones is a force of nature as Margaret, the late king's widow, who curses Richard with measured rage and fury. Haydn Gwynne is Elizabeth, the “poor, painted queen,” forced after her brothers are murdered to promise her daughter's hand to the monster.
Chuk Iwuji is the much-too-loyal and too gullible Buckingham, the opportunistic pawn who ultimately is sent to the block. He offers "headstrong" support. A thrilling battle and finale find the despot struck down and hung upside down by his feet in a theatrical stunt Olivier would have relished.


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