Though box office takings remain strong at the Old Vic, three out of three rounds of poor reviews for the first productions under artistic director Kevin Spacey’s reign there have prompted some critics and other commentators to publicly question his future (See News, 22 Apr 2004). The Independent’s Paul Taylor ended his review of National Anthems by wondering what’s gone wrong with Spacey’s “weird regime” while the Evening Standard’s Nicholas De Jongh was even more savagely to the point. Yesterday, he opened his review of the Dennis McIntyre play, in which Spacey makes, by declaring: “I begin to have serious doubts about whether Kevin Spacey is the right man to run the Old Vic. He launched his regime as artistic director last autumn by presenting a dud Dutch drama (Cloaca) about miserable, middle-aged men discharging emotional waste about the stage. He caps that dire experience with an even more boring, almost interest-free event.” Spacey directed the inaugural production and makes his acting debut since taking over as artistic director in the new production, directed by David Grindley. The Christmas pantomime, featuring Ian McKellen as Widow Twankey, played to sell-out audiences, but most critics preferred Hackney Empire’s alternative London staging of Aladdin. A lot will be riding on the final production in Spacey’s first season - the much-anticipated revival of Broadway comedy The Philadelphia Story, in which he’ll also star – as well as still-to-be-announced programming plans for his follow-up season.