Kevin Spacey & The Old Vic
Feb 28, 2014
Evening Standard (published text edited)
Kevin Spacey's time at the Old Vic has been a mixed blessing artistically but a big hit culturally. The high-point of Matthew Warchus' production of the Norman Conquests trilogy was counter-balanced by the infamous Complicity in which Richard Dreyfus had to wear an earpiece to have his lines fed to him. Spacey's own performances in Inherit the Wind and Richard II didn't quite help some of us forget the uber-bore of Philadelphia Story or the mediocrity of Cloaca. Or, for those few who saw it, the infamous shambles of Robert Altman's staging of Arthur Miller's Resurrection Blues.
But in its commitment to getting young and local audiences through the doors, the annual 24 Hour Plays event and giving the Old Vic a profile as a company of note rather than a building for hire is no small achievement.
Is he a better actor now than he was before? His claim that he couldn't play House of Cards' Francis Underwood before his Old Vic tenure strikes me as false modesty. He was a great actor in the 90s and he's a great actor now, albeit - judging from his TV and radio interviews of late - a terser one.
But whatever some of us thought ten years ago, the Old Vic has not been a vanity project. It has been a proper theatre presenting varied work of which, necessarily, some was great, some was poor and most was in-between. The achievement will probably become more obvious from a distance when his successor is able to build on that legacy.
Originally posted: not available online