Theatregoers who read London’s Evening Standard must be feeling pretty confused: A couple of years ago, the Standard’s Nicholas de Jongh wrote angrily: ‘Is it time for Kevin Spacey to hand over his crown? The Old Vic’s latest show is a flop and there are no new productions to fill the next few months. If the theatre goes dark, its artistic director should resign.”
The theatre did indeed go dark for some considerable time.
But recently, in a piece reporting on the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, readers were told: ‘A lesser man than Spacey might have quit in the face of so much hostile criticismâ€¦ But it was now that Spacey displayed real character, sticking to his guns, and leading from the frontâ€¦ For bringing new life to the Old Vic with a combination of chutzpah and true grit, Spacey is the worthy winner of the Special Award.”
It would have been nice to see on this piece the byline of de Jongh – who was a member of the judges’ panel for the 17th year – but actually it was penned by Charles Spencer.
So are de Jongh and Spacey ready to kiss and make up? Maybe not. After all, the Hollywood star famously said that taking advice from de Jongh on how to run a theatre was ‘like taking advice on war strategy from Donald Rumsfeld”.