Kevin Spacey has received glowing reviews for his "superb" and "powerful" stage portrayal of one of Shakespeare's most famous villains - Richard III.
The Hollywood star appeared at London's Old Vic for the opening night of the historical play which charts the rise and fall of the 15th Century king.
The role sees him reunited with Sam Mendes, who directed him in the 1999 Oscar-winning movie American Beauty, and according to critics their latest collaboration has also come up trumps.
Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington said: "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."
He added that the American thespian, who is the Old Vic's artistic director, "acts with every fibre of his being", giving a "superb performance" as the villainous king.
The production, which includes cast members Maureen Anderman as the Duchess of York and Haydn Gwynne as Queen Elizabeth, marks the third and final season of the Bridge Project, an initiative bringing together British and American actors in classic theatre productions for international audiences.
Spacey's performance, which saw him limp across the stage with a leg brace and stooped back, won him a standing ovation and loud cheers from the audience.
Of reuniting with Mendes, Spacey has said: "Sam is one of the finest directors I have had the pleasure to work with and to gain this opportunity is beyond my wildest hopes."
He added: "With such a remarkable character before me I have a feeling this one is going to be a memorable experience."
Mendes said he was "absolutely delighted" to work with Spacey again, adding that Richard III is "a role I think Kevin was born to play".
Photo: © Rex
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