Clarence Darrow, Old Vic, theatre review: Kevin Spacey plays the perfect advocate
Spacey gives a mordant, open-hearted performance as civil rights lawyer
Thursday 05 June 2014
It's been three years since artistic director Kevin Spacey last performed at the Old Vic in Richard III.
Now, as he prepares to hand over the reins to Matthew Warchus in 2015, he returns with this wonderfully charismatic and caustic solo turn as the pioneering civil rights lawyer and noted wit, Clarence Darrow (1857-1938).
Spacey is evidently fascinated by this figure, having previously played him in a television movie and in Trevor Nunn's production of Inherit the Wind about the 1925 “Monkey Trial” in which Darrow defended a Tennessee teacher arraigned for giving lessons about evolution.
In David W. Rintels' one-man play, first performed by Henry Fonda, the lawyer looks back over the fifty year career in which he championed the oppressed, saved 102 people from the death penalty and faced disaster when accused of bribing a jury. Kevin Spacey plays civil rights lawyer Clarence Darrow at the Old Vic
It's a slightly clunky and romanticised retrospective but Spacey's mordant, open-hearted performance – directed by Thea Sharrock – brilliantly captures the fusion in Darrow of boundless crusading zeal unashamed theatrical showmanship.
He prowls about on splayed arthritic legs like a veteran prize fighter who refuses to be felled and splendidly squares the circle of performing a solo show in-the-round by repeatedly breaking the frame and buttonholing various sections of the audience as though they were jurors.
Darrow's claims to greatness as a battered but unbowed humanitarian find, in Spacey, the perfect advocate.
To June 15; 0844 871 7628
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Edward Heath 'raped 12 year-old boy at Mayfair flat'
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 3 Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale divorce: One of music industry’s most enduring couples announce split after 12 years of marriage
- 4 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
- 5 Will Smith 'divorce': Actor forced to respond to tabloid rumours after 'condolence' messages
Artist Jamie McCartney: How The Great Wall of Vagina is a stand against 'body fascism'
Game of Thrones season 6: 'A Song of Ice and Fire should be finished by 1998,' said George R. R. Martin, 'but don't hold your breath'
Sherlock season 4: Benedict Cumberbatch will be 'a lot less brattish' in Victorian special
Find out what song was number one on the day you were born
The top 20 books every student should read before leaving secondary school
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke