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William Shakespeare’s Richard III

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The last chance to watch Kevin Spacey as director and actor in the Singapore run of Shakespeare’s Richard III for Sam Mendes’ The Bridge Project was almost worth missing an annual Thanksgiving dinner and a lush party for.

Intermission, Richard III, Esplanade TheatreThe modern costume of Spacey’s Richard recalled the late Gaddafi, and the apparent quickness of a mind contrasted with hideous physical deformity that made him scurry across the stage like a sinister spider seemed to reference the intelligent Verbal Kint/”Kaiser Söze” you couldn’t help applauding at the end of The Usual Suspects. His enunciation was clear enough to be heard from the cheap seats in Circle 3 of the Esplanade Theatre and the intonation, considered enough for the audience to catch his emotion. The overall pacing, too, made the four hours (with a 20 minute interval) fly past, with different scenes denoted by the names of the subjects of Richard’s murderous thoughts projected on the walls (Paul Pyant’s lighting and Jon Driscoll’s projections, says the Los Angeles Times).

The Guardian links to reviews from the run at the Old Vic.

It’s a pity William Shakespeare’s plays are so detestable to so many school-going kids because of his association with far too many boring literature classes; he can teach them enough about real life and about relationships made complicated by the self-centered desires of parties to eject them from their superficial emo-ness.

But our goal in life shouldn’t be sophisticated cynicism of course. A healthy appreciation of reality should make us despair of our ever behaving rightly towards other people, even those we claim to love, even after we’ve sworn never to act like our nasty parents, friends, colleagues. And there is no need to hide this shameful fact from the God whose name was so often on the lips of the actors in Richard III: he knows all too well the evil of the human heart and our inability to extricate ourselves from our own sinfulness, which is why he sent his son to relieve us of this impossible burden:

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

It is this rest that all the Sabbaths of the Old Testament looked forward to (right relationship with God and with fellow men – in the present only partly but perfectly in the future), available to anyone who (desperately or just calmly after much thought) simply trusts this promise.

*assumed that since explanation for photography ban was that it would disrupt the play and distract the audience, photography without the use of flash during intermission would be ok

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