Kevin Spacey Plays Darrow at Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in Flushing, Queens
To review the show without talking about the logistics of the production would be a disservice. My husband and I drove in bumper to bumper traffic from Long Island to Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in Queens, NY to see Kevin Spacey play Clarence Darrow in a one man production called Darrow. The production was only on for two nights.
When we got to the stadium, the parking was horrendous. There was nowhere to park, except a free spot which was more than a mile away or a paid spot that was closer to Citifield than the tennis stadium. We paid the $25 and walked the half mile to the tennis stadium.
It was a cool, humid evening. There was a threat of rain. The top of the stadium was closed so as not to get rain on the audience (or for that matter, the actor).
When we got to Arthur Ashe, there was a very long line to get in. It was now 8:00 pm and the show was about to start. We were nervous that we would miss the beginning. But, luckily, we got through security quickly and headed to our seats in section 5.
Within moments, the show started and Kevin Spacey came out carrying boxes. At first, I thought he was a stage hand but then noticed it was Mr. Spacey.
Kevin Spacey is an incredible actor. He played Clarence Darrow so well, you forgot Kevin was on the stage and really felt as if Clarence Darrow was telling his story.
Personally, I thought I would be bored with a one man production but I was far from that. I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time as he talked about his trials and how he helped change laws like the work day to be 8 hours and to stop the death penalty.
When he said, unfortunately “history tends to repeat itself that’s what’s wrong with history,” I was reminded that although this production was about a man who lived in the early 1900’s, the same issues that he talked about exist today.
Clarence Darrow was civil libertarian. He represented John Scopes in the the Scopes Monkey Trial, where teacher, John Scopes wanted to teach evolution in public schools and was forbidden because it went “against the bible.”
He also represented Leopold and Loeb, two rich and intellectually gifted teenagers who murdered a 14 year old boy and tried to get away with the “perfect crime.” Darrow was able to plead imprisonment instead of death penalty, which was a huge win at that time.
Mr. Darrow also defended Ossian Sweet, an African-American physician who moved his family into a “white” neighborhood in the 1920’s. When he tried to defend himself and his family against a threatening mob outside his home, he was put in jail. Mr. Darrow was able to set him free against an all white jury.
The performance was powerful, thought provoking and was highly emotional. Kevin Spacey embraced and engaged the audience. He was the perfect person to play this part!
Although the show was wonderful, one major problem with the production was the sound. I wish the sound crew had brought it up a few notches. It was hard to hear at times and you had to listen closely. In addition, with the planes flying over head every few minutes, it was slightly disruptive.
Overall, it was a fantastic show and I only wish more people could have seen it!