Thursday 22 February 2018

Kevin Spacey lambasts mobile phone user in character as Richard III

Kevin Spacey (left) and on stage in Shakespeare's Richard III
Kevin Spacey (left) and on stage in Shakespeare's Richard III

Jonathan Pearlman

Kevin Spacey has won praise for a series of in-character attacks as Richard III on unruly audience members in Sydney, including a cutting rebuke of the owner of a ringing mobile phone.

During a performance last week, Spacey, the would-be Duke of Gloucester, singled out the phone owner and bellowed "Tell them we're busy!". The audience erupted in support.

The following night, he shone a laser light at some theatregoers who were heard to rustle and whisper within earshot of the king.

"Quick as you like [he] dipped into his tunic and withdrew a green laser light, pointing it at the offending audience members who, we are told, were suitably chastised," reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Spacey has long been hostile towards misbehaving theatre audiences. As artistic director of the Old Vic, which produced the current production, he denounced noisy sweet wrappers and declared the theatre a "phone-free zone".

In Sydney for a 10-day run of the Sam Mendes-directed play, Spacey has attracted mixed reviews for his performances but consistently high praise for his rebukes.

The former NSW Premier, Bob Carr, an arts aficionado, issued a scathing review on his blog and declared that he walked out at interval.

"If you like Shakespeare, don't see this," he wrote on his blog. "If you liked Kevin Spacey in American Beauty (1999) don't see this. If you like the fun of Shakespeare's villain Richard, Duke of Gloucester, don't see it".

Spacey has drawn better reviews from professional theatre critics, who described him as "wonderful" and "complex" and "multi-layered".

Still, despite his onstage outbursts, Spacey has given strong praise to Sydney. Though the early summer has been one of the coldest on record, Spacey posted a picture of the harbour on Twitter yesterday, saying: "Sydney on a beautiful afternoon. It’s been fantastic being here".

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