Inherit the Wind

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 18 September 2009, Opened 1 October 2009, Closeed 20 December 2009 at the Old Vic Theatre in London.

A major revival of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee's play Inherit the Wind in London directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Kevin Spacey.

Two legal Titans confront each other when a community puts freedom of thought on trial. Based on the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey' Trial, this play is presented at the Old Vic in 2009 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species.

The cast for Inherit the Wind features Kevin Spacey as 'Henry Drummond' and David Troughton as 'Matthew Harrison Brady' with Mark Dexter and directed by Trevor Nunn.

"The 1926 Scopes 'Monkey Trial' was a landmark American legal case in the fight between creationists and evolutionists, and its fame was assured by this ponderous 1955 Lawrence and Lee play. Inherit The Wind's unsubtle approach has 'worthy afternoon TV drama' stamped all over it but the case is still sadly relevant. And at the core of this courtroom drama is a clash of the Titans that is right up Kevin Spacey's acting alley: both he and David Troughton as his opponent give scintillating performances... Trevor Nunn marshals this large cast (including cute monkey) impressively, with rousing crowd scenes that emphasise the small-town clampdown on non-conformity. He also plays well with the theatricality of the court experience." The London Metro

"Are you a man or a monkey?' asked a sign brandished by one of the Bible belting protesters outside the courtroom where, in Trevor Nunn's splendid and timely revival of Inherit The Wind, the prosecuting lawyer was accusing Darwin of putting the evil into evolution... The play was inspired by the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey Trial' in Tennessee, where teacher John Scopes was tried for violating the Butler Act, which forbade the teaching of evolution in state-funded schools.... It is old-fashioned and occasionally clunky, but a good, sound courtroom drama has an innate power and tension, and this one includes a real monkey, which gives the piece fresh legs. Almost upstaging it is the great Kevin Spacey. He's one of those actors who is so mesmerising, so easy on the ear that he could make the telephone directory sound as loaded and lyrical as Shakespeare. As the rumpled and stooping lawyer defending Bertram Cates, a young teacher on trial for reading On The Origin Of Species to his pupils, Spacey's Henry Drummond oozes wisdom, wit and authority. He effortlessly holds the audience, which functions as an extension to the jury sitting in the front row of the stalls, in the palm of his hand. Spacey's Drummond is well matched by the prosecuting counsel, Matthew Harrison Brady, played to the hilt by David Troughton, his legs bowed beneath his great weight, stuffing himself at every opportunity with treats prepared by the pious womenfolk dedicated to serve him." The Mail on Sunday

"Some of the political complexities of the case have been eroded, and a tiresome romance introduced between the accused teacher and the daughter of the preacher who leads the opposition. But these creaky aspects are largely forgotten when David Troughton and Kevin Spacey come head to head in the courtroom. In one corner, Troughton gives an appropriately barnstorming performance as the sweaty, guzzling rabble-rouser Matthew Harrison Brady, who believes he knows the exact time that God created man. In the other, Spacey plays Henry Drummond (based on the great lawyer Clarence Darrow), whose lithe, inquisitive mind makes a monkey out of Brady. Trevor Nunn's impressive production brings the whole Bible-belt community on stage to cheer on the prosecution." The Sunday Times

Inherit the Wind in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 18 September 2009, opened on 1 October 2009 and closed on 20 December 2009.