The Reviews Are In for Daniel Radcliffe’s Stage Debut

Daniel Radcliffe‘s controversial foray into theater has been met with mostly positive reviews, reports the BBC. Stars like Christian Slater, Stephen Fry, and Graham Norton were on hand for Radcliffe’s debut as demented stableboy Alan Strang in Equus. For a 17-year-old whose penis has been making the rounds on every sex blog and message board on the Net, the poised Harry Potter star has very little to be ashamed of today. He’s legitimized by the critical reaction to his role. But the praise is far from the unanimous awe that reality star Connie Fisher garnered for The Sound of Music.

Some reviewers are smitten nonetheless. Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph gives Radcliffe the most ecstatic praise:

Daniel Radcliffe brilliantly succeeds in throwing off the mantle of Harry Potter, announcing himself as a thrilling stage actor of unexpected range and depth.

Michael Billington of The Guardian also raves about Radcliffe, giving the play itself four stars mostly on the strength of Radcliffe’s performance:

The revelation of this revival is that Daniel Radcliffe really can act, proving that his screen appearances as JK Rowling’s boy-hero are no flash in the magic pan.

The Independent‘s David Lister seems to think Radcliffe shows promise but stops short of calling him “revelatory”:

In the event, Radcliffe acquits himself well. He is not the most expressive of actors, and his stage presence will take time to evolve; but from the moment he enters the psychiatrist’s office, shoulders hunched, eyes narrowed, and singing advertising jingles to avoid questioning, he cuts a compelling figure. As the evening goes on, there are moments when he touches, even if not tugs at, the heart strings. One feels for this boy because one senses from his performance a repression hiding a reservoir of feelings desperate to burst.

The TimesBenedict Nightingale is lukewarm and even a bit critical of Radcliffe’s interpretation of the difficult role:

Radcliffe proves an assured actor and makes a perfectly able equimaniac. He can do aggression and pain, and, oddly, is lacking only in the sense of magic and wonder the part demands…

…Radcliffe has only one obvious weakness. His Alan is pale, vulnerable, defensive, surprisingly tough; but he’s supposed also to find an exhilaration bordering on religious ecstasy in the company and, especially, the secret riding of horses. This, Radcliffe misses.”

The notoriously discerning Evening Standard theater critic, Nicholas de Jongh, gives Radcliffe a near-pan:

[P]layed by Radcliffe with an air of pathetic, small-scale belligerence…[his] touching, little-boy lost Alan never convinces you he is wild with desire for horses or girls.

Hey, don’t let de Jongh get you down, Danny. You can always rely on those world-renowned intellectual giants, Peaches and Pixie Geldof, to offer fresh insights:

Peaches Geldof said: “I think Daniel acted brilliantly. I wasn’t shocked by the nudity.”

Younger sister Pixie gasped: “I was so shocked! I love him, I think he is beautiful.”

In other news:

  • The Guardian highlights some of Britain’s most breathtaking and seemingly out-of-place landscapes.
  • Victoria Beckham goes blonde. Not the full Monroe, but a skunky two-toned platinum blonde front and brunette rear. Yuck. (The Sun)
  • Victoria Beckham has obviously adapted to a certain way of L.A. life – she’s drinking and playing dominoes – but it hasn’t been easy. The Mirror reports she’s “struggling with LA’s demand for 24-hour-a-day glamour.” She could start by fixing that jacked-up dye job. I’m just sayin.’
  • Haha, this announcement doesn’t even warrant a lead spot on The Mirror page, but Jamiroquai‘s Jay Kay says he’s quitting the music business. He says, “All I’m going to do now is fly my helicopter and look for the right lady to have children with.” I wish him as much success in those endeavors as he received as a musician.
  • Dame Helen Mirren has already been photographed erotically sucking in hamburgers at Oscar parties. Now the 61-year-old actress has revealed her Oscar speech was a “commando” performance. Mirren told Oprah that she wore no knickers under her glittering gown Sunday evening. I’m waiting with bated breath for Perez Hilton to post the tell-tale coochie-cam limo shot.
  • Jade Goody‘s passage to India: if you believe The Sun, it’s not going over so well. Supposedly, Goody staged a photo shoot inside a small hut in Delhi, but people waiting outside to be photographed were crushed as they tried to get in. “Women were knocked flying and children trampled underfoot,” claims The Sun. I’m sure a couple of people tripped or scuffed their shoes, but you know the drama queens at The Sun. They get snaps, though, for this quote from a witness: “Mum Anu, 26, was knocked to the ground with her three-month-old tot. She said: ‘My baby is hurt – who is this awful person? She is not welcome here if she is going to behave like this.’”
  • Beth Ditto and Noel Gallagher are a mutual admiration society.(NME)
  • “If you find yourself tied up and doused in petrol, don’t worry if all your assailant has is a lighted cigarette: scientists have proved you won’t end up as a human fireball.”(Guardian)
  • Will Justin Hawkins pen the UK’s Eurovision tune now that Morrissey (and apparently every other good songwriter in Britain) has passed on it? (Mirror)
  • Deep Purple slag off their own live album and discourage fans from buying it. Ian Gillan says this about the live concert behind the album: “It was awful. It was one of the lowest points of my life – all of our lives, actually.” I admire the honesty and integrity of this statement. Some old rockers would have taken the paycheck and said, “F*ck the fans.”(Mirror)
  • Will Mick Jagger collaborate with new Oscar winner, Martin Scorsese, on a film about the music business?(The Sun)
  • Naomi Campbell confesses a long-time struggle with cocaine to GQ magazine.(Daily Mail)
  • “War”…what is it good for? A top 10 hit for the band Ugly Rumours, it seems. (Guardian)
  • Is there a Go Fug Yourself for the roadways? Cuz Kristin Scott Thomas‘ hideous tiger-striped electric car is just itching for a fug.(Daily Mail)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

See more posts by Kevin Wicks