The Old Vic
The Old Vic: The Story of a Great Theatre from Kean to Olivier to Spacey, by Terry Coleman, is the brilliantly researched and thrillingly told history of one of the greatest theatres in the world.
We are temporarily only able to ship Faber Shop orders to addresses in the UK.
The Old Vic, one of the world’s great theatres, opened in 1818 with rowdy melodrama and continued with Edmund Kean in Richard III howled down by the audience. One impresario, among the first of thirteen to go bankrupt there, fled to Milan and ran La Scala. In 1848 a chorus girl tried to murder the leading lady. In 1870 the Vic became a music hall, then a temperance tavern and, from 1912, under Lilian Baylis, both an opera house and the home of Shakespeare. By the 1930s great actors were happy to go there for a pittance – John Gielgud, Charles Laughton, Peggy Ashcroft, and Laurence Olivier. The Vic considered itself a national theatre in all but name.
After the second world war the Royal Ballet and the English National Opera both sprang from the Vic, and the National Theatre, at last established in 1963 under Olivier, made its first home there. In 1980 the Vic was saved from becoming a bingo hall by a generous Toronto businessman. Since 2004 Kevin Spacey, Hollywood actor and the winner of two Oscars, has led a new company there, and toured the world.
[A] splendid history... Terry Coleman writes with steadiness, humour, dash and an unfailing eye for a good story.
Coleman covers a lot of ground in this canter of a survey, and has a sharp journalistic eye for detail.
[A]nyone who loves this glorious, well-appointed London delight is bound to find much to please them in this homage to its history.
Browse a selection of books we think you might also like, with genre matches and a few wildcards thrown in.