Clarence Darrow

Opened 28 May 2014, Closed 15 June 2014, Returned 3 March 2015, Closed 11 April 2015 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

The return of Thea Sharrock's acclaimed revival of David W Rintels' one-man play Clarence Darrow in London starring Kevin Spacey for a strictly limited six week season, following the sell-out run in June 2014

A compelling one man tour-de-force in which the larger than life Clarence Darrow with his legendary wit relives some of his pivotal experiences, including the infamous Scopes 'Monkey' and 'Thrill Killers' trials which established his reputation as a courtroom giant and civil rights hero. Starring Kevin Spacey as 'Clarence Darrow' and directed by Thea Sharrock with music by Adrian Johnston. This is the return of the acclaimed production that was orignally staged here at the Old Vic Theatre for a sold-out run of 22 performances in May/June 2014.

Kevin Spacey's acting credits at the Old Vic Theatre include Sam Mendes' revival of Shakespeare's Richard III (2011), Trevor Nunn's revival of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee's Inherit the Wind (2009), Matthew Warchus' revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow (2008), Howard Davies' revival of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten (2006), Jerry Zaks' revival of Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story (2005) and David Grindley's production of Dennis McIntyre's National Anthems (2005). Thea Sharrock's directing credits include the musical The Bodyguard currently at the Adelphi Theatre.

When this production opened in May 2014 Michael Billington in the Guardian highlighted that "Kevin Spacey gives a big, barnstorming performance... that brings out Darrow's bravura humanitarianism and it leaves one hoping that, even after Spacey hands over the Old Vic to Matthew Warchus next year, it will not be his farewell to the London stage." Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph hailed his "thrilling solo turn... that is often spellbinding." Paul Taylor in the Independent described it as being a "charismatic and caustic solo turn as the pioneering civil rights lawyer and noted wit Clarence Darrow." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail wrote that "this cracking performance — despite a so-so play — sees him at the top of his art." Dominic Maxwell in the Times thought that "Spacey emits so much energy here that you could plug him into the National Grid," adding that the play itself is like "a York Notes overview of a legal pioneer that majors in barnstorming speeches and rousing liberal sentiment." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard wrote that "Thea Sharrock’s production is nimble, and Spacey’s performance is memorably fervent." Neil Norman in the Daily Express said that "Kevin Spacey bows out of his 10–year tenure at the Old Vic with a virtuoso performance as influential US lawyer and civil libertarian Clarence Darrow."

"In his swansong performance, Clarence Darrow, a 1974 play by David W Rintels, Kevin Spacey steps up to the mark. It's his first one-man show ever and, with the Old Vic stage reconfigured as a theatre-in-the-round, his first performance in that most technically challenging of stage forms... As he takes the stage, it's clear that Spacey feels totally at home in his manor, confident that he can hold his audience in his hand. He doodles around the stage as Darrow, an old man going through boxes of papers cataloguing his past glories, silent, eyeing up his audience, before launching into an epic monologue... Spacey, drawling, gritty accent to the fore, captures the barnstorming passion and sharp wit of his character to a tee. One feels the light - at times, over-light - hand of his director Thea Sharrock, who might have found a way to persuade the star to modulate his strident tone and draw out the quieter moments in the script. If she tried, Spacey was having none of it." The Sunday Telegraph

"The gorgeous Old Vic has been rearranged in the round, to resemble a court house. In the dock is the legendary libertarian lawyer Clarence Darrow, adamant opponent of the death penalty, and Kevin Spacey, in his swansong after a decade as the theatre’s artistic director. And what a way to go, in a barnstorming tour de force that reinforces Spacey’s reputation as among the very finest not just of his generation but of all time... Spacey’s Darrow is a compelling presence even before he begins to talk, when he becomes truly mesmerising... Proud of his 'small-time' roots and a suit that looks slept in, he may look relaxed, but every detail in Thea Sharrock's production is meticulously rehearsed. And it's as much about timing as content, the essence of great acting as well as great advocacy. It's called genius." The Mail on Sunday

"After an uneasy start in which he hectors the audience like obdurate witnesses, Spacey relaxes and electrifies the theatre just as Darrow did the courtroom. Rintels's premise is simple: an elderly Darrow reviews a career tirelessly devoted to fighting racial prejudice, economic oppression religious fundamentalism... Director Thea Sharrock makes excellent use of the Old Vic's reconfigured auditorium, with Spacey not only reaching out to but also moving among the audience. The sound and lighting effects, however, are fussy. Sharrock should have more faith in the atmosphere conjured by her star." The Express on Sunday

Clarence Darrow in London at the Old Vic Theatre opened 3 March 2015 and closed on 11 April 2015, return of production originally staged here from 28 May 2014 to 15 June 2014.