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Richard III at the Convention Centre

It seems like many weeks ago when Marhaba was invited along to a tour of the new and impressive Convention Centre, when our guide revealed that the first play to be performed in the brand new theatre was Richard III and Kevin Spacey was playing the lead; we were all excited. And this weekend it actually happened!

The two performances were brought to Doha as part of the “Bridge Project” which aims to bring together actors from the US and the UK together over a three year period. Directed by Sam Mendes, who worked with Kevin Spacey on American Beauty, created a very stark atmosphere for Shakespeare’s play, lots of bleak colours and unrepentant drumming.

The story is about Richard’s struggle for power, who due to his obsequious ways, manipulates then kills his way through his family to the throne. Mendes chopped up the play into chapters, each named after whoever Richard was currently working on, giving the play a far more modern and cinematic feel, reminiscent of Tarantino’s work. Special attention was paid towards the shadows in the play; creating a eerie and oppressive environment.

Kevin Spacey, Hollywood actor and Old Vic artistic director gave an incredibly powerful performance. Wearing a leg brace and hunched over, he dominated the stage, emitting a creepy presence and crawling like an insect in time to the beating of the drums, making him seem like a parasite on his own kingdom, his inhumanity personified. The costumes were modern yet traditional, with women in long dresses and Spacey in a military uniform with connotations of modern day dictators.

Spacey also gave some workshops on acting to students here in Doha, and Marhaba hopes that there are many more performances of plays at the National Convention Centre, homegrown and international.

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