When I went: Summer 2011
Location: Old Vic, London
Performers: Kevin Spacey (Richard III), Chuk Iwuji (Buckingham), Haydn Gwynne (Queen Elizabeth), Gemma Jones (Queen Margaret), Annabel Scholey (Lady Anne)
Creative team: Sam Mendes (director), William Shakespeare (playwright)
Approximate price: £85
Special points: House of Cards inspiration
Best bit: Spacey’s monologues
If I could change one thing: Even more humour
Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays, focusing on the king’s rise to power and chess game-like tactics as he knocks anyone or anything out of his way.
As artistic director of the Old Vic, Kevin Spacey presided over and starred in many productions there including Speed the Plow. This was one of his best, where his considerable acting talents and charisma were fully exploited, and he also mined the depths of a twisted and overly-determined character as inspiration for his turn as Frank Underwood in the American version of House of Cards.
Chuk Iwuji was particularly good as Buckingham, but the whole supporting cast gave great performances under Sam Mendes’ careful direction, with Gemma Jones’ Queen Margaret highlighting the desperation of the characters around Richard III. The audience seemed to greatly enjoy this play, especially the moments where Spacey gave them space to appreciate the jokes at other characters’ expense.