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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 15:18 GMT
Spacey to make Shakespeare debut
Kevin Spacey in National Anthems
Kevin Spacey is currently appearing in National Anthems
Actor Kevin Spacey is to make his UK Shakespearian debut in the autumn.

The Hollywood star, who is the artistic director of London's Old Vic will play Richard II at the London theatre.

Oscar winner Spacey's first role acting was playing the messenger in Henry VI on the New York stage in 1981.

Richard II will kick off the theatre's second season with Spacey at the helm, after initial productions which have been met with mixed reviews.

The play, which has been planned for two years, will be directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, who used to be artistic boss at the National Theatre.

Spacey graced the Old Vic stage for the first time this week since he was announced in the post two years ago.

But the show was greeted with a mixed reception from theatre critics, with some hinting that the Hollywood sheen Spacey brought to the role may be wearing thin.

Sir Ian Mckellen as Widow Twankey
Sir Ian McKellen appeared as a panto dame for the first time at the Old Vic

The Evening Standard's reviewer Nicholas de Jongh said there are "serious doubts about whether Kevin Spacey is the right man to run the Old Vic".

The Independent's Paul Taylor dubbed the actor's directorship a "weird regime".

Spacey has been criticised in the past for selecting obscure plays, such as Cloaca by a little-known Dutch writer Maria Goos, which was called a "stinker" by Daily Telegraph critic Charles Spencer.

A spokeswoman for the Old Vic said that the announcement about Spacey's future plans showed that he was "not going anywhere".

Panto dame

"He will be on stage at the Old Vic for the next eight months, which shows his commitment is ongoing," she added.

Old Vic offerings have performed well at the box office, with the current National Anthems taking 1m in advance bookings, while Sir Ian McKellen made his debut as a panto dame in Aladdin in December.

Spacey, who scaled down his Hollywood commitments to take on the Old Vic, also attracted a lot of attention last year by saying that theatre-goers should not eat sweets or use mobile phones.

"There is some degree of behaviour that we expect in the theatre and we're going to demand it at the Old Vic," he said.

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