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Helen McCrory, versatile actress who dominated the stage and shone on screen in Peaky Blinders and The Queen – obituary

The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer put her in his ‘pantheon of actors whose name in the programme always creates the anticipation of pleasure’

Helen McCrory, who has died of cancer aged 52, made her name as a subtle and intelligent stage performer, and later bucked the trend that consigns actresses to oblivion in middle age, becoming one of Britain’s most sought-after television stars in her 40s.

In the first decade of the new millennium she was hailed as one of the most promising presences in British theatre. Writing in the Telegraph in 2002, Jasper Rees placed her in the tradition of Judi Dench, Zoë Wanamaker and Imelda Staunton as “the small, punchy actress with a voice that can coat a back wall in honey from 100 paces.”

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Categories Print Media Reviews The Late Middle Classes

The Late Middle Classes at the Donmar Warehouse – Review

Helen McCrory is both devilish and divine

by Michael Coveney | October 23, 2011 | The Independent

The late Harold Pinter, who first directed the late Simon Gray’s The Late Middle Classes, found it to be a rich and beautifully wrought piece of work that was “deeply satisfying” to direct. I see what he means but I do not share his certainty.

That production, which I saw at the Watford Palace, never made the West End. That led to some grumpy protestations, not least from Pinter. So it’s good to see the Donmar reviving the piece, even if David Leveaux’s production doesn’t prove any more persuasive.

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Categories Print Media Reviews The Late Middle Classes

The Late Middle Classes at the Donmar Warehouse – Review

The Late Middle Classes is Simon Gray at the very top of his game

Finally, 11 years after its premiere, and almost two years after the dramatist’s death, Simon Gray’s The Late Middle Classes has made it into London.

This rich, haunting play, mostly set in the early Fifties on Hayling Island and with a period flavour so strong that you can almost taste the powdered egg, was bumped out of the West End last time around by a dire musical.

In a way, you can see why those who blocked the play’s transfer back in 1999 were nervous.

There is a rare subtlety, and ambiguity about the piece, a mixture of comedy combined with something far darker that resists easy explanation or analysis.

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Categories Reviews The Late Middle Classes

Review: The Late Middle Classes

Smooth Operator… Helen McCrory in The Late Middle Classes

by Michael Billington | June 1, 2010 | The Guardian
Helen McCrory in The Late Middle Classes at the Donmar Warehouse
                                       Photograph: Johan Persson

Justice has finally been done. This Simon Gray play expired on the road in 1999 without ever making it to the West End. Now, in David Leveaux’s sensitive revival, it emerges as one of Gray’s best plays: a quietly moving portrait of repressive 1950s England and, in particular, of the way children often become the victim of adult dreams and desires.

The action is bookended by two present-day scenes in which the mature Holly visits his former music teacher. But the bulk of the story takes place on Hayling Island in the 1950s where the 12-year-old Holly is caught between conflicting emotional needs.

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Categories Interviews Print Media The Late Middle Classes

Helen McCrory: ‘Attack yourself – don’t get lazy’

Why Helen Loves Acting

by Maddy Costa | The Guardian | June 1, 2010

She’s played Cherie Blair, a Harry Potter villain and now a 1950s housewife. Helen McCrory tells Maddy Costa why she loves acting. Directors go out of their way to work with Helen McCrory. Pregnancy twice scuppered her plans to star as the passionate idealist Rebecca West in a London revival of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm – but rather than cast somebody else, its director, Anthony Page, kept rescheduling the production around her. Pregnancy also lost her the role of Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, so its director, David Yates, saved the part of the equally wicked Narcissa Malfoy in the next three Potter films for her.

Now it’s the turn of David Leveaux, who, after several thwarted attempts to find a suitable joint project, has pinned her down to appear in Simon Gray’s play The Late Middle Classes, at London’s Donmar Warehouse. Add the fact that critics invariably praise her performances as luminous, vibrant, compelling and seductive, and it would be enough to make any actor complacent. Not McCrory. For her, it’s vital “to attack yourself, so you don’t become lazy”. Continue reading Helen McCrory: ‘Attack yourself – don’t get lazy’