Dame Helen Mirren “Needs To Raise Her Game”

  • Dame Helen Mirren – who has an Oscar, four Emmys, and four BAFTAs to her name – is an acting god to many. Her return to Britain’s National Theatre stage in Jean Racine‘s Phèdre, directed by History BoysNicholas Hynter, was looked upon as a great event. But, according to The Daily Telegraph‘s Charles Spencer, Dame Helen “needs to raise her game” to the other actors in the show, which include the legendary Margaret Tyzack, Stanley Townsend, John Shrapnel, and hunky History Boys and Mamma Mia star Dominic Cooper.

    There is something stagy about Mirren’s hand gestures, insufficient strength, and variety in her voice. In the earlier scenes this consummate professional even occasionally stumbled over her lines. What’s fatally lacking is a sense of tragic abandonment, the feeling that a great actress is laying everything she has before us, mind, heart, soul and guts.

    Ten years ago Diana Rigg delivered just that with a Phèdre that proved the peak of her career.

    Oh suh-nap, he brought up Diana Rigg, whom many feel should have had Helen’s career!

    Spencer goes on to say Mirren’s performance is “far from disastrous” but that she needs to “dare more, expose more, dig deeper.” That sounds like strong praise compared to The Independent‘s Michael Coveney, who gives the production one star (!) and says that Mirren “opts for decorous restraint, as if suggesting that passion is best implied not spoken. That’s simply not what happens in Racine, and it’s so disastrous a misunderstanding that you begin to wonder if Hytner is still fully in control of his faculties, let alone the National Theatre.”

    Ouch, y’all. But Benedict Nightingale of The Times nearly hyperventilates from the page in his love of Mirren’s work:

    From the moment Mirren crept onstage in a parody burka that veiled and swathed her entirely in purple, then crept out of it, an ashen moth desperate to stay in its cocoon, it was her evening.

    Does she miss anything? Maybe a little lust, maybe a moment of joy when she thinks there’s a chance of love, but mostly she offers what the text demands: shame, remorse, self-contempt.

    Well, I know one thing: if the gorgeous Dominic Cooper in a black tank top isn’t enough to light Dame Helen’s fire, she has neither a heart nor functioning loins:

    In other news:

  • It was Blur reunited at last night’s MOJO Awards.(Telegraph)
  • Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has broken her arm in a fall at her home.(The Independent)
  • Lily Allen has filmed her scenes on Neighbours, and Daily Mail has a photo of her with the Aussie soap’s cast.
  • Even Jamie Oliver has taken aim at Gordon Ramsay.(The Sun)
  • Did former Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo enjoy a night in Paris (Hilton)? Or was it all a staged ploy to introduce Ronaldo to the American audience à la David Beckham? The Guardian surmises that this is a way for Ronaldo’s new team, Real Madrid, “to hook the American Latino market, which is where the US’s huge soccer audience is to be found. They need Ronaldo to follow in the golden boots of David Beckham. What better way than to place him at the jugular of America’s uber-celebrity, Paris Hilton?”

    American admirers of male beauty need no such stunts to appreciate Ronaldo:

    You can grate Parmesan on his stomach. He really needs a 12-step program for overtweezing, though.

  • Downgrade: Miley Cyrus has split with the spicy Justin Gaston to date a British rocker with an awful faux-hawk.(The Sun)

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.

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