Clarence Darrow

Published June 5, 2014

What’s it all about?

Two men. One, a world-renowned stage and screen actor, the other, a pioneering American lawyer.

The production sees the former play the latter in David W Rintels’ witty and compelling one-man show that looks back at the criminal defence lawyer’s historic cases. From representing the Pennsylvania coal miners during their 1902 strike to saving young murderers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb from the death penalty, the play charts Darrow’s incredible achievements as a lover of the poor and friend of the oppressed.

Who’s in it?

Kevin Spacey is mesmerising as the famous attorney, who he has played on two previous occasions, on screen in the 1991 film Darrow and on stage in Trevor Nunn’s 2008 production of Inherit The Wind at the Old Vic. Though evidently well-educated on Darrow’s history, this time the Oscar-winning actor has a new challenge on his hands. Not only has Spacey never performed a one-man show, he’s never performed in-the-round either, but from the energy, enthusiasm and charisma he channels into his performance as the pioneering criminal lawyer you’d never have known. It certainly begs the question: can anyone command such a large auditorium singlehandedly while surrounded on all sides by audience members as well as Spacey?

He is, of course, helped by Thea Sharrock whose skilful direction uses the in-the-round configuration to its full potential, allowing Spacey to interact with the audience as if trying to convince a jury.

What should I look out for?

Spacey’s whining old woman’s voice and the standing ovation that he will no doubt receive again and again throughout the course of the show’s run.

In a nutshell?

Kevin Spacey marks his 10th anniversary as Artistic Director of the Old Vic with an exhilarating tour-de-force performance that makes you wanting every show between now and the end of his tenure to be a solo show in which he stars.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@kit_green: Impressed by Kevin Spacey as Clarence Darrow last night @oldvictheatre A masterclass in one person theatre.

Will I like it?

Are you a fan of Kevin Spacey? Do you enjoy compelling, beautifully written theatre? If either is true, you will love Clarence Darrow. If both apply, you’re in for an incredible evening that you won’t forget in a hurry.

By the end of Darrow’s career he had saved a staggering 102 men from the death penalty. Spacey will step down from 10 years at the helm of the Old Vic having entertained a lot more.

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