(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/29.)
There are basically two ways of presenting Richard III: as the culmination of a cycle or as a standalone drama. And, although I think it only makes total sense when seen in the context of the Wars of the Roses, Sam Mendes has come up with a beautifully clear, coherent modern-dress production in which the protagonist becomes an autocratic archetype.
But the real buzz and excitement stems from Kevin Spacey's powerful central performance.
Spacey doesn't radically overthrow the Olivier concept of Richard the Satanic joker, as Sher and McKellen did. What he offers us is his own subtle variations on it: a Richard in whom instinctive comic brio is matched by a power-lust born of intense self-hatred.