Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kevin Spacey

We watched Horrible Bosses this weekend, a dumb comedy that provided more than a few good laughs. Kevin Spacey was one of the three horrible bosses. He could play this kind of amusing creep in his sleep, and judging from the performance, that's pretty much what he did. Ditto for Colin Farrell. Of the three bosses, only Jennifer Aniston, as a nympho-maniacal dentist, clearly put some effort into it. She is very funny.

Spacey first came to my attention in the late 80s TV series, Wiseguy, in which he guest starred as a twisted, drug-addled gangster. The creepiness factor has served him well ever since then, in American Beauty (a movie I didn't care for), in which he turns out to be a creep with a heart of gold, and Seven (a movie I liked), in which he is a creep beyond redemption.

Which brings us to Richard III, the role Kevin Spacey was born to. We were lucky to be there opening night in San Francisco. The production is brilliant. The other actors range from solid to excellent. But it is, as I guess Shakespeare intended it, a one-man show. Every Richard is evil, and it would have been natural for Spacey to model his Richard on all the other humorously creepy villains he has created. The evil is there, and the humor too, to be sure. But evil does not exactly define this Richard. Spacey as Richard is more pure life force. Twisted, wracked with pain, this Richard nonetheless seems to relish every second. The physicality of the performance is astonishing. The set is deep and largely empty; "crippled" Richard charges across it, in full command of his space, as dangerous as a wounded animal, as devastatingly effective as Walter Payton running the football.

But this is Richard, after all, and in the end this life force must get his comeuppance (quite literally, as it turns out, in this staging). Only in a cheesy horror movie would such a villain's corpse come back to life to wreak havoc one last time. I'm sure I was not the only member of the audience wishing that it could happen here too, just this once...

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