Review: Clarence Darrow, Old Vic


“I was fascinated by the idea of the law”

No matter how many good ones I see, I can never really muster that much enthusiasm for monologues – I have to be dragged to see them – which consequently means I am often pleasantly surprised as my expectations aren’t too high. And so it came to pass with Kevin Spacey’s tour-de-force in Clarence Darrow, something of a last hurrah on the stage of the Old Vic whose artistic directorship he is leaving after more than a decade.

David W Rintels’ Clarence Darrow rattles through the life and extraordinary career of the legendary lawyer – he of Inherit The Wind where Spacey took on the same character on this same stage – who took on capital punishment and defeated it in case after case as he shook up the US legal system. The play pulls together snippets from some of his great speeches and biggest wins along with more personal anecdotes to paint a portrait of a mighty fine human being.

And it is a role that Spacey seems born to play, he takes to the format like a duck to water, prowling around Alan Macdonald’s design which remains in the round and allows Spacey to move around freely, connecting viscerally with audience members and filling the vast space with his energy. It is no mean feat though some may be turned off by the grandstanding, you know what you’re getting with Spacey and he more than delivers with a magnificent performance.

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 15th June

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