National Anthems by Mazkev
I would like to say i really enjoyed his first play he did, on his first season at the old vic theatre in london. It was certainly a play I would never forget as it reminds you of what is important in life. How it can effect people in general, and how people should be treated with respect. National Anthems made me think, not just about Kevin Spacey’s acting in general, but the play itself. Kevin Spacey plays a man called Ben Cook who is a friendly but wierd neighbour in a plush detroit suburb.
The play focuses on class clash between an affluent couple with social aspirations Mary Stuart Masterson who plays leslie Reed is a housewife who does nothing but clean. Then finally Steven Weber who plays Arthur Reed a man who has a good job, aspects and wears Rolex watches as if hes a business man. Ben Cook is mystery man as you do not know what he does for a living during the play. The couple grudgingly invite him into their home. This parable of American materialism sees the action played over real time.
Ben Cook talks about life in general about his life as Arthur reed is certainly disinterested in what he has got to say. As this goes on tension between Ben Cook and Arthur reed start to mount. As Arthur takes the mick out of Ben which then leads to hurting his feeling. Leslie reed seems interested and wants Arthur to be interested in what hes got to say. In Act 2 Scene 1, talking nicely to each other seem to not exsist between them all as Ben Cook has his feelings shattered, and taken the mick out of as if he was the geek. Arthur Reed seems to think hes the big man and tells Ben that hes a fake and hes stupid. Leslie Reed trys to stay out of it but is dragged into the argument of who is the best man to win.Ben acts the fool by acting like a child.
Example Leslie brings out Prawn Volevons for him to eat. He looks the other way and chews it as if it had gone off, then he has a flask of whisky, thinking it was empty he tips it up and it goes everywhere, this shows that kevin Spacey playing Ben Cook has a sense of humour. But this seemed to make Arthur look angry, the fact HE came in and HE is recking their privacy. Towards the end, after Ben Cook had a few drinks with Arthur Reed, this made them very competative towards each other, as being drunk doesnt make it any better. The two men clear the whole floor for a little sport called ‘American Football, where the two have to ram into each other and cause havoc.
That is what the play was all about, Kevin played a good role as a good person with loads to tell about life and not about money. I will remember this also cause i was at the front row watching it, so close to kevin Spacey we were literally next to each other. We looked at each other cause I gave him a standing ovation proud, he smiled at me, the kind of smile you see in him when he is honored for people wanting to watch him.x x x August 20, 2005
National Anthems by seinok
One of Kevin’s fans has written about their trip to London to see NA, but would like everyone to read about it at their own homepage. You can find it here: http://www.seinok.atw.hu/ (The link no longer works. Too bad.)
May 10, 2005
National Anthems by Cynthia (UK)
I had some reservations about the play at first- Ben might have had more impact if he’d been more mysterious rather than having an actual history for example. But the knocker on the door who struggles to gain admittance then has to move on is a powerful haunting image linked so much to our world of asylum seekers, refugees and the poor in a rich society. Kevin Spacey’s performance was quite remarkable welding the humour, verve and pathos of Ben into a strong co-ordinated whole that was fascinating to watch and both funny and moving . The nervousness, clumsiness, energetic competitiveness, sense of humour and final emotional collapse flowed into each other with no sense of awkwardness. It was like a very sympathetic tour round a human being.
I’ve seen Kevin in films but the theatre is so special and different and as I watched him I thought “You could do anything, anything – any of the great roles, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov and any of the modern writers. You could involve us totally and create such magic” And I noticed you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. And Mary Stuart Masterson and Steven Weber were excellent too but I couldn’t take my eyes off Kevin Spacey. And everyone stood up and applauded and shouted at the end and I blew my nose – well I had a cold!
I was with a group who see several plays in London each year and discuss them with tutors from Manchester University in seminar groups. We are adult extra mural students. We had seen some wonderful stuff during the week – Derek Jacobi in “Don Carlos” and Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler”. I was talking to one of the tutors who is Reader in English at Manchester University next day and I was commenting on Derek Jacobi’s great acting. “Yes”, said the tutor, “and Kevin Spacey’s great performance last night” And coming from that tutor that was a great compliment. And I’ll be going to see “The Philadelphia Story” and lots more at the Old Vic because I’ve seen quite a lot of theatre, modern, classical, experimental and there are only a few very special moments and “National Anthems ” was one of them. If anyone has only seen Kevin in films you must try to get to the Old Vic to see him on the stage – he has a remarkable capacity to get inside a character and hold the audience. He is also clearly a very hard worker and loving every minute of it. I hope he stays in England (sorry Americans!) then I can see him in more theatre.
May 2, 2005
National Anthems by Sharon H.
I was lucky enough to see Kevin in National Anthems. It was fantastic. You could have heard a pin drop in that theatre at the end. It confirmed for me that Kevin is the most talented actor of our time and it was a real privilege to see him live. In june I’ll be seeing him in the Philadelphia story. Cant wait.
April 25, 2005
National Anthems by Isis
Last night was the last night of National Anthems & my third time to see the play. It was a great night, with terrific performances from all three actors. During the first half they really seemed to be having fun & the audience responded with lots of applause throughout – Kevin’s magic trick went down a storm! The second half was very intense, the interaction between Ben & Arthur (Spacey & Weber) had a viciousness to it that was almost frightening. It is a mark of their talents that all three actors were able to make the play as fresh on the last night as it was on the first. I know how lucky I am to be able to see the play three times – as I was constantly reminded by the American fans I spoke with! It is fascinating to see a performance develop, I guess it proves there’s always room for improvement. Following a standing ovation at the end Kevin thanked his fellow actors, their director, all the Old Vic team, and he had special thanks for Dennis McIntyre’s partner, Karen Reidel, who was also in the audience. He thanked the audience & said how grateful they all were for the chance to perform for audiences who came from all over the world.
Naturally I went to the stage door & after a long wait the man himself eventually appeared, (green cap this time!). The usual request for photos was made & he refused, (as usual;)),saying ‘they won’t let me.’ Someone then yelled at him to take off his cap, which made him laugh – ‘I’m not taking my hat off, I’m tired, leave me alone’ was his reply. He was very good humoured with everyone & very patient, despite the large number of autograph requests. He thanked us again & went back inside. Hopefully he & the Old Vic team are pleased with the last twelve weeks – I think the audience reactions have proved the critics wrong. The moral of the story is; don’t listen to critics. I spoke with some of the audience sitting around me on all three nights I was there & we agreed that Kevin will probably never please the British critics, not his fault, they are incredibly snobbish and .. (And? The review form must have a text limit. If Isis would like to send me the last of the review, I’ll be happy to add it. Sorry!)
April 25, 2005
April 8th & 9th, 2005
My Friend and I went to London last week to see National Anthems. It’s also our first trip to London so it’s a nice combination for us. We booked the theater tickets in Jan. in order to secure some good seats, before we booked air tickets and hotel rooms. Eventually we pull the whole thing off nicely.
I had read the script before and was not particularly impressed. This is a play that heavily relies on the acting. Because the material could be easily treated as a light contemporary piece, rather than a serious drama. The soul searching is covered by many funny lines.
Kevin Spacey was even better than I expected. I saw his The Iceman Cometh on Broadway but still was stunned by his performance in this one. He was hilariously funny most of the time but it’s obvious he was building up the momentum for the final 20 minutes, which was almost like A Streetcar Named Desire type of ending. In those two hours we witnessed one of the most brilliant stage acting ever existed.
Steven Webber deserves a medal for holding up the other half of the play, often under the danger of being overshadowed by Spacey. Webber’s performance was energetic and had a few sparkles from time to time. In two occasions, the audience cheered for his character during the show.
Mary Stuart Masterson, unfortunately, didn’t have much to do in this play. She served as a leverage between Spacey and Webber. At the end, when Spacey’s character totally broke down at her feet, her response didn’t match up his emotional level. I felt slightly let down.
We went to the stage door hoping to get autographs. Very luck, I had all three actors sign on my poster, which is now hanging in my office. Kevin Spacey wouldn’t take pictures with his fans and apologized constantly. But he let people take pictures of him. He seems to be very polite and soft spoken, but didn’t smile much either. That night was very cold, low 40s, and he didn’t even have a jacket on. But he still signed for everyone at the door. It took him at least 15 minutes or so. I asked him if he would be performing in New York anytime soon. He said no and that he lives in London now and is trying to do theater at the Old Vic.
We were totally taken by this wonderful production of National Anthems. Now we are looking forward to the Philadelphia Story in the summer, not to mention Richard II in the fall, although we didn’t plan to go back to London so soon and so often.
National Anthems by Vivienne (April 5)
We really enjoyed the play. It’s obviously American and the front three rows of the stalls were filled with American kids, presumably over here on a school trip. From there, they’d have been able to see his nostril hairs, but you’d have to crane your neck up all the time and you wouldn’t appreciate the rest of the set, which was excellent. There were odd phrases and bits of business that were non-English but wouldn’t detract from the play, but it was nice for me to understand all the background stuff having lived in the States.
Kevin was a little over-the-top, but I suppose that’s what the character is all about. It’s quite a physically demanding role and in parts, emotionally so too. The other two actors were excellent as well. I’m not sure if Kevin was well last night – he kept wiping his face with a handkerchief and running his hand over his hair and bald spot (which is getting even bigger – it’ll soon reach his receding hairline) and wiping his hand down his trousers. By the end he looked completely drained. When they took their bows he looked like he was in a trance – not even the ghost of a smile.
The theatre seems much bigger when you’re in the stalls or the upper circle, but the Dress Circle (or Royal Circle) only has 5 rows in it. And it is a very pretty theatre – and the seats were very comfortable, although mine had a funny squeaky creak every time I moved.
My friend Clair made me go round to the stage door afterwards and we duly waited for Kevin to put in an appearance. He had his usual cap on and was completely po-faced. No-one in the group outside (about 20) spoke to him apart from saying thank you but, being me, I couldn’t let it go at that. I said “That was most enjoyable – but I don’t know how you do that every night and matinees too. Can I have some of your stamina please?” and that made him smile – the one and only time! And then he went back inside. He probably signed about 10 autographs.
Not a GREAT play, but a reasonably good one. I’m sure the criticism is because they expect something with more gravitas from the Old Vic.
April 6, 2005
National Anthems by Simone, Germany
There is a huge step from reading the script to seeing the play performed on stage – and to seeing it performed by such brilliant actors – and to seeing Spacey starring Ben Cook. And mind that he’s on stage from the second minute to the end (excl. 2 min “in the kitchen” to get some rags). To me, as a member of the audience on 31st of March (welcomed in front by those cleaners..), this play has only one flaw: It is too short…
April 5, 2005
National Anthems by Karen
What can I say, my mum and I saw it on Saturday 26th March and we were in row F in the stalls, and I can honestly say we had a superb time. All three actors deserve special recognition, but Kevin Spacey steals the show throughout, especially in the last 15 minutes or so. He was just wonderful, we were hooked from start to finish! We are hoping to see it again before it finishes its run, if not we can look forward to him in The Philadelphia Story. A truly marvellous show and three amazing actors, but Kevin Spacey is a delight to watch! March 27, 2005
National Anthems by Kathryn H.
I arrived in London on Saturday 26 March, Easter weekend to see National Anthems. On walkabout from our hotel my husband and I passed the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park and its doggy walking area! In its grounds is the Imperial War Museum. It isn’t far from the London Eye and the Thames Embankment. Not far away we found the theatre on Waterloo Road and had gone early in order to find our bearings as later in the evening it would be dark for the walk from our hotel. Approaching the theatre from a side direction it looked dark and pretty grim from looking at the windows. I didn’t realise I was actually there until I spotted the billboard of Kevin on the side of the building and the entrance to the Pit Bar Restaurant.
The front facade is white and lit up with billboards. I checked out where the Stage Door was before reluctantly coming away. The matinee was in progress. That night entering the foyer it was crowded in such a small space, but seemed plush. I bought a programme and headed for the Pit Bar where a pianist was trying to be heard above the chattering throng. The Pit Bar Restaurant was roped off. The menu seen earlier seemed expensive and the restaurant small from what I could see. All the staff were dressed very smartly indeed. The auditorium is absolutely beautiful. A wedgewood blue and gold decor with elaborate plasterwork and a lovely domed ceiling with chandalier. The theatre was so small that I should imagine every seat is fairly good even at the back of the stalls, circle and upper circle. The red seating had plenty of leg room.
A huge American flag was hiding the brilliant set behind it. When the party music came on loud and the flag fell to the floor the set looked as if it had come straight from The Ideal Home Exhibition (an annual London exhibition). The party hosts were in view and then Kevin appeared at the front door, banging with his fists on the door. I was surprised by the moustache and beard and the long side-burns and the longish hair in the neck. The bald patch is still spreading, but those eyes, nothing else mattered but those eyes! I loved the play. I loved the quick-fire dialogue. The first half was very funny indeed. After a 15 minute interval the cast were back and it just got better and better. Without wanting to give anything away, what happened on stage towards the end was nothing short of AWESOME.
I have not seen Kevin on stage before. I was expecting very good, even excellent, but nothing could have prepared me for how he portrayed his character on stage. So vivid. So powerful. This man is AWESOME! The audience were stunned, transfixed, the auditorium silent but for his sobbing. I think I must have held my breath as I was gasping for air and gripping the arm-rest. At the end when the cast took their first bow, we weren’t ready for them, weren’t ready to relinquish what we had seen and acknowledge their work until we had chance to take it all in.
On their second return, Kevin was not composed. He shook, he was taking deep breaths and exhaling as he bowed. The audience rose as one and the applause was deafening. My hands stung with pain from applauding but I couldn’t stop. By the third or fourth bow Kevin appeared a little more relaxed, the three actors acknowledging our support and applauding us. They disappeared. It was over. What a performance! What a night!
I made my way outside into the side street and down to the Stage Door. There were not as many people there as I had expected there would be. Fans lined up with cameras expecting photos. It turned out this particular group of fans were from America and waiting for co-star Steven Weber, who was superb. Once I realised this and just as Steven came out of the stage door I made my way out of their throng and had to negotiate a few parked cars to get to the other side of the group of people.
Just as I looked up at the stage door Kevin appeared, opening the door. I did a double-take as I wasn’t expecting the man in the hat! There stood Kevin before me, white trainers, black jeans, black over-shirt and a deep cap as in the photo on the website with Prince Charles. He didn’t look up and people were trying to get a decent digi-pic but all you could see was a crowd and the hat. One girl in front of me asked for a picture with him and he said no. She asked again and he replied “I can’t do that I’m sorry. If I do it for one I have to do it for 34,000 other people and it’s not fair. I’m sorry.” She said she had come all the way from America and pleaded with him again. He said “No means no. I’m sorry, please understand.”
Never one to be speechless, words failed me when I stood before him and he took my pen, signed my programme and said “Thank you so much for coming.” I thanked him and made my way away from the door. I wanted to say so much more but I was still trying to take it all in and not another word came out. How unlike me you cannot imagine. How do you tell someone they are just AWESOME.
Kevin managed to meet everyone and all went away quietly and happily. He was last seen closing the door and bounding up the stairs, whilst a man came along and appeared to lock the door. I was last seen being led away, shaking and clutching my programme. I thought it would be enough seeing him in National Anthems and that I wouldn’t want to return so badly to see The Philadelphia Story, but I’m hooked. I wouldn’t want to miss a performance Kevin was in. Another fan wrote that he takes acting to another level, I didn’t know what they meant. I do now.
Kathryn H, U.K. 29.03.05
National Anthems by Donna J.
Just back from London after seeing National Anthems and what can I say, the man himself was amazing! The play was a mixture of emotions, I loved it and he puts so much into his acting that he did look goosed at the end. I went round to the stage door afterwards where there was a small crowd waiting. Steven Webber came out first and was met by a few admiring fans. He signed their programs and happily posed in photographs with them. My knees were trembling at the thought of actually seeing Kevin so close. He came out and made sure he signed everyone’s stuff. My husband stood back with my camera but couldn’t really get a picture as Kevin keeps his head bowed a lot and hid under his wee brown hat. I gave him my bts soundtrack cover to sign and told him that it was brilliant. He didn’t speak until 5 minutes later when I asked him for a photograph in which I got the reply ”I am sorry but I can’t, if I did it for you then I would have to do it for 35,000 other people! That was fine, I was delighted to even be standing that close that our arms were touching. Sad eh! He’s a cool guy, Considering going down again!!
March 27, 2005
National Anthems by Catherine C.
I got back Sunday, but between getting caught up at work and home, this is the first time I’ve had time to post. I saw National Anthems 3 times while I was there (remember, I came all the way from Kansas in US). I had read the play when it was first announced, and didn’t care for it much as read. But when I saw it performed, I liked it very much. It is funnier and much more moving performed than the play reads. Kevin and the rest of the cast did come out the Stage Door after every performance. They all signed autographs and let the fans take their pictures. Mary Stuart Masterson even offered to pose with my son – she’s a sweetheart. Kevin would not pose, and even announced that at the beginning one night. So in all my photos he is looking down, because he is signing. But he stayed about 6-7 minutes until everybody had a chance to meet him. He even asked “did I get everybody?” I shook his hand the last night. I asked him when the next season would be announced. He told me in May. I told him I had seen him in LA at the Wiltern. He responded “oh, the Bobby Darin thing,” like it was something he was over and done with.
I got 4 autographs total. (I had brought a BTS one sheet to be signed, and bought an Old Vic poster and a NA poster.) My office is going to be well decorated! Kevin goes back inside the building when he is done with the fans and one night we saw him leave a door on the other side of the building. The Monday night we were there is supposedly the night he had dinner with Quentin Tarantino and Val Kilmer – we saw him get into a cab over by Waterloo Station. One night he had guests backstage and he left in their car. And the hat? It was on every night when he came out to sign. I saw him coming down the stairs from stage level the first night and my first thought was “it’s the hat!” He sounded sort of hoarse, and soft spoken. But he was so gracious and thanked us all for coming. I was so surprised I was able to speak to him – I always thought I’d make a fool of myself if I met him in person! I spoke to him all 3 nights I was there. There were usually only about 15 people waiting for autographs every night. So different from what I have heard about Iceman in NY with the barricades and all. I guess the English are just less impressed with celebrities than we Americans are? Anyway, it was a wonderful, wonderful trip and I can’t wait to go back in June!!
March 24, 2005
National Anthems by Sue
I haven’t seen a live play for quite a while but being a Kevin Spacey fan I booked to see National Anthems at The Old Vic as soon as I heard about it, and after waiting months to actually see it I thought it was absolutely brilliant. The first half was really funny, I loved the humour, the second half turned darker and much more emotional. It was an excellent story, superbly acted and really entertaining. The brochure for the play has a quote from the Guardian which says “Kevin Spacey is mesmerising – a dazzling performance” and I wholeheartedly agree. I loved the play so much, as soon as I got home I booked for The Philadelphia Story. Something to look forward to in May!
March 16, 2005
National Anthems by jackie
Very entertaining, very funny, Kevin at his best, couldn’t imagine anyone playing the part as well as he did. Absolutely brilliant. Looking forward to the Philadelphia Story.
February 22, 2005
National Anthems by Carole
When I was about 8, my Mum took me to see The Sound of Music. I remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday. When I came out of the cinema, I sauntered down the road with my head down and shoulders slouched. My Mum asked me if I had enjoyed the film, to which I simply replied, “Yes”. She thought I hadn’t enjoyed it. What had actually happened was that I was completely blown away by the whole experience and found that I simply could not put in to words what had happened to me in the cinema. I was rendered absolutely speechless for a couple of days until it began to sink in – the magnificence of the music, the scenery, the storyline and the acting and singing. From that moment on, I decided that I was going to be a film star!!!
So it was that, on last Saturday evening, I came out of The Old Vic, fell into my husband’s car and was once again rendered speechless. “What did you think of it, Caz?” asked my friend who came with me. “I can’t talk about it right now!” However, being a little removed from the whole experience I can now begin to put in to inadequate words what I felt about the play.
Biased I might be, but I simply cannot understand why the play has been so badly received by theatre critics. The first act and much of the second was extremely laugh-out-loud funny. There were many throw-away lines and a deep irony of American life as well as British life. We could all recognise ourselves in the characters’ need for the very best of European nick-nacks: the Bang and Olufsen stereo, the German car ………. The characters were three-dimensional with a heart and a hidden depth. The disquiet felt in the sub-text kept me wondering what was going to come out. Kevin and Steven’s American football game was hilarious – what stamina and control in such a small space! The ending, however, was awe-inspiring. I won’t give anything away, but Kevin’s performance drew tears, gasps and sheer wonderment at his talent. Oh my God! I fear for his health as he performs with such emotion night after night.
So why has it been panned? Quite simply, because he is Kevin Spacey! To be fair, the critics do applaud the acting, but, let’s face it in a Britain that despises success, no-one will be given praise where it is due. I fear that since Kevin’s little stroll in the park with Mini, he has lost the support of the British press. You Americans adore and look after your stars – so you should. They are precious commodities. It is with much regret that Britain is jealous of our (and your) greatest ambassadors, so finds every opportunity it can to criticise them.
I know Kevin (and others like him) say that they take no notice of the critics, but that must be hard. Here is a guy who has risked everything to save our most famous theatre. He could have chosen a venue in New York, but no, he came to London. He must be wondering why now …….. Kevin, we all love you! The play received a most deserved standing ovation. Can’t wait for The Philadelphia Story!
February 21, 2005
NATIONAL ANTHEMS BY MICHELLE
I WENT TO SEE NATIONAL ANTHEMS ON WEDNESDAY 16TH FEB AND WHAT A NIGHT. KEVIN HAD SUCH A STAGE PRESENT. WE WERE ON ROW H AND AS THEY HAD TAKEN SEATS OUT FOR THE STAGE WE WERE SO CLOSE I COULDNT BELIEVE I WAS THERE. THE PLAY IS BOTH FUNNY AND DARK WITH A LITTLE TWIST AT THE END. IT WAS MY FIRST VISIT TO THE OLD VIC, IT IS A WONDERFUL OLD BUILDING AND REALLY IMPRESSIVE INSIDE ALTHOUGH IT DOES NEED SOME WORK. AFTER WE WERE REALLY LUCKY TO GET KEVIN TO AUTOGRAPH MY PROGRAMME. ALL I CAN SAY IS IT WAS A NIGHT I WILL NEVER FORGET AND I CANT WAIT TIL MAY AND MY NEXT VISIT. FEBRUARY 20, 2005
National Anthems by Terri
Oh Boy – just came back from seeing Kevin Spacey live onstage Just allow me to start off by saying… Oh… Holy… Jesus! First off, I realised we were actually on the THIRD row, not the fifth, as they had taken the two first rows down to build the massively impressive set. So really, we were basically on the stage. Not a bad thing. It started off with Steven Weber trying to play a game on his watch, and Mary Stuart Masterson clearing up after a party. From where we were sitting, we could see Kevin Spacey traipsing around ‘outside’ the ‘house’ and then appear in the window next to the door. With – and hold on for this – a handlebar moustache! Looking a bit like he’d failed a Village People audition. He talks his way inside the couple’s home – and stays. At this point – as he’s literally standing six feet away from my chair – I find myself thinking, “This is too surreal – am I really here watching Kevin Spacey perform live!?” Act one was really dedicated to allowing the characters to develop, which they did amazingly. Weber & Masterson play an American Beauty couple where expensive stuff from each continent of the world is more important than love. Spacey plays a typical annoying bloke who’ll never shut up, talks about everything and nothing to avoid silences and questions. He doesn’t want to talk much about himself, but knows all there is to know about everybody else on the street. In the second act, we get to go deeper into the psyche of all three – maybe Spacey the most. He’s got strongly suppressed aggression and nearly loses it several times, composes himself and laughs it off. Until the shit hits the fan and Kevin does the most amazing performance I’ve ever seen on a stage. I haven’t even come close to seeing anything like it, and being a theatre reviewer for about two years I’ve seen a lot of stuff! Of course, I’ve seen good plays, I’ve seen great plays, great performers, but nothing like this. The play, up to this point, made us all laugh – at times hysterically – but once it becomes clear why his character is the way he is, the truth, it hit most of us right where it hurt. And twists about twenty times. I’ve seen Kevin play emotional scenes on film, but on camera it can be done again and again and again until it’s right – but here he was, right in front of me, sobbing his heart out. He couldn’t even compose himself at the end when they all came back for their – well deserved – applause. I don’t think I’ve ever been this impressed by anyone ever. This is what acting is about. The two others were also brilliant, acting their parts excellently, but Kevin just took it all to another level. He just proved – once again – that he truly is the best.
February 2, 2005