Thursday, 19 March 2015

REVIEW - Clarence Darrow, Old Vic


KEVIN Spacey bows out as artistic director of the Old Vic in what can only be described as a masterclass of a performance in Clarence Darrow.
This one man play is done in the round with Spacey as Darrow regaling the audience on all sides with a jukebox show of his greatest courtroom hits.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Clarence Darrow was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
He may not be that well known over here but his achievements were many and remarkable - including helping to establish the eight-hour working day in America.
He was perhaps best known for defending teenage killers Leopold and Loeb in their trial for murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in 1924 and the Scopes "Monkey" Trial in 1925.
David W Rintels’s compelling play was written in 1974 and is a first-person monologue about Darrow's career but also showcases Darrow's wit and his reputation as a courtroom giant and civil rights hero.
Spacey plays him as a somewhat hunched, at times world weary chap but who even when things look bleak, won't let himself be beat.
He just gets up, dusts himself down and carries on, all the time addressing the audience.
At some points Spacey even came into the audience - sitting with us, shaking us by the hand, gesturing to us, and taking us all in.
Sometimes it felt as though we were a jury in one of his famous courtroom battles. But most of the time though I felt he was talking just to me. It was a real tour de force.
It was utterly exhilarating - dramatic, funny, emotional, intense and flawless, and left me hoping that this is not the last time we will see Spacey on stage in South London.

Clarence Darrow is on at the Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo until April 11. Visit or call the box office on 0844 871 7628.

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