NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage
Theatre productions are fascinating affairs. They exist in their own little bubble of artistic expression, lasting only as long as the run continues. In the case of the Bridge Project’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III, it stretched to 198 performances across the globe over the course of a year culminating in a final show in Brooklyn in March 2012. NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage documents this journey, offering a lightweight travelogue that fails to get to grips with the purpose and the process of the tour.
To watch the Bridge Project (a three-year collaboration between the Old Vic and the Brooklyn Academy of Music) in action as they take Richard III on a global roadshow, you’d think staging a world tour is a breeze. Kevin Spacey, Sam Mendes and the team exist in a video diary of exotic locales, adoring crowds and intense onstage performances. There’s something almost cathartic about watching Spacey and the rest of the 19-strong cast racing around sand dunes in the Middle East or riding a boat off the Italian coast in their downtime.
Director Jeremy Whelehan’s film is really at its best when it’s showing glimpses of the stage production in action. What starts to emerge is a truly outstanding production that justifies the sell-out audiences and the global reach of their endeavour. It’s everything else that’s less successful. Taking a rote learning approach, Whelehan hammers away at the same old observations until they become mundane: a ridiculous amount of time is dedicated to cast members praising Kevin Spacey. However good his performance, and however nice a guy he might be, it doesn’t need a 97-minute documentary to confirm it. Their self-congratulatory masterstroke in bringing out the comedy in the play is also lauded repeatedly.
This leaves little time to address anything else. The logistical nightmare that must occur from staging shows across the world is glossed over, while comments on the value of performing to different audiences and cultures are skin deep at best. A few amusing anecdotes are all that’s offered up to try and fill the void.
The Bridge Project embarked on an epic journey but it’s one NOW is unable to take the audience on. If you missed Richard III you truly missed out. The same cannot be said of Whelehan’s film.
NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage is released nationwide on 9th June 2014.
Watching the trailer for NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage here: