Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic: glamour and an iron grip

When it was formally announced in 2003 that Kevin Spacey was to be the new director of the Old Vic, there was a certain amount of scepticism. Would he serve out his promised 10-year term? Was he, perhaps, another Hollywood star using the London theatre to buff up his CV? I remember a particularly horrible press conference a year later, when Spacey sought to announce his programme: the Old Vic stalls were packed with hacks asking prurient questions about his private life. It didn’t help that the opening work of Spacey’s tenure was a Dutch play all too aptly called Cloaca which, as Latin scholars are aware, means “shit”.

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Top 5 shows of the Spacey years

1. Richard III. Under Sam Mendes’s direction, Spacey gave us a lethally ironic double-Gloucester and capped the Old Vic run by playing the role in 198 performances around the world.

2. Speed-the-Plow. Jeff Goldblum and Spacey generated enough energy to power the national grid in Matthew Warchus’s rollercoaster revival of David Mamet’s satire on Hollywood insecurity.

3. The Crucible. Yaël Farber’s revival, starring Richard Armitage and Anna Madeley, reimagined Miller’s play as a study of male exploitation, rather than female hysteria.

4. Electra. Greek tragedy came to the Old Vic in Ian Rickson’s superb revival with Kristin Scott Thomas playing Sophocles’s distraught heroine like a woman possessed.

5. The Norman Conquests. Ayckbourn’s 1970s trilogy was brilliantly reclaimed in Warchus’s in-the-round staging, which turned us all into eavesdroppers on a comically horrendous family weekend.

 

More: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/may/14/kevin-spacey-old-vic-high-society

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