Richard III The Bridge Project HK Academy for Performing Arts Ends today In British director Sam Mendes' stage production of Shakespeare's Richard III, presented by the Hong Kong Arts Festival this weekend, Kevin Spacey plays the title role - a scheming, bitter, self-loathing English duke - with much sardonic glee. Sneering and jeering at his enemies within the royal court, often behind their backs, the power-hungry hunchback bumps them off one by one as he limps his way to the throne. The Hollywood actor's Duke of Gloucester is evil on a crooked, limping leg - not unlike the con man he played in The Usual Suspects (1995), for which he won his first Oscar for best supporting actor. But the deformity is, of course, merely a physical manifestation of something darker and more sinister, and it is Spacey's skill at using humour to draw out this obnoxious monster that had the audience gasping both in delight and horror during the three-hour show. Mendes' contemporary take on Richard III shifts the timeline of the drama from the 15th century, at the end of the War of the Roses, to the early 20th century. But the excellent scene in which the Duke of Gloucester appears on a video screen, faking modesty and humility to the public, could almost be from a political campaign of today. This treatment makes the play relevant in a world where political intrigue and tyranny are still much in evidence. It also shows how contemporary the Bard's writing is. This is a fine ensemble piece with strong performances, especially from the female cast: Gemma Jones as Queen Margaret, Haydn Gwynne as Queen Elizabeth and Annabel Scholey as Lady Anne. The pacing of the opening night performance was slightly uneven after the intermission, when Richard the king is consumed by extreme paranoia. The minimalist set, percussion and lighting all added mood, drama and intensity to this tale of horror. But Spacey was without a doubt the star of the show, shining through almost every scene and handling this mentally and physically demanding role with aplomb.