Touching Kevin Spacey

Written by Melanie Portelli, New Business Director at Now.

Ok so I didn’t touch him. But I bloody could have!

I was fortunate enough to score a free ticket to see Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic on Friday night. It was one of those situations where my friend offered me the ticket a few weeks back (her fiancé is away), I sort of forgot about it, then had a crazy week at work so didn’t even give it a second thought.

So on my way there I had no idea if I was off to see an interview, a bit of stand up chat, a serious stage show or a full on musical! Turns out I was off to see Spacey depict the story of a 20th century American lawyer, Clarence Darrow. Two hours of Spacey, alone on stage with me in the front row. Wowzer.

And what a show it was. The stage set was a half moved in 19th century office. Full of open boxes, in trays, stacks of books and an appropriately classic looking telephone. The show opens with Spacey under the desk, legs popping out… after a few moments of confusion it becomes apparent he is fixing the drawer.

The ‘moving office’ set up cleverly provides a platform for him to share his extraordinary life story. As he unpacks each box and pulls out various note books and photos the amazing stories of the people he defended are shared with the audience. Clarence became famous for protecting the rights of black people and slaves. His court case wins changed legislation to protect their rights. He brought in the 8 hour working day being a basic human right for all people.



You really get a feel for the guy as he endlessly shuffles around his office in his oversized suit; sweating, drinking tea, waist coat on, a shot of booze, jacket, cigarette, shuffle shuffle, jacket off, tea… Spacey delivered this so seamlessly that you walk away absolutely believing this closely represents the socialist lawyers true manner.

The story that touched me the most was around the coal workers. Little boys who lived underground for over 10 hours a day, fed nothing more than as single potato. Their job – to use their bare hands to pick out the slate amongst the coal. It makes me feel sad on the inside. Needless to say losing a limb was a common occurrence.

As Timeout says it is an absolutely unequivocal, no-hand-wringing stand for liberal, even socialist, values. It seems quite timely really, with everything going on at the moment, to remind us all about basic human justice. Civil rights. How real integrity in world leaders and business influencers should not be a nice to have.

Well Mr Spacey. I thought you were fab in House of Cards. But you blew the roof of the Old Vic for this performance.