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Helen McCrory: ‘If there’s one interesting thing about acting it’s trying to lose your ego’

Three encounters with the great actor who has died at the age of 52

Helena McCrory as Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea at the National Theatre in 2016

Each generation is given an actress who can do everything – be intimate with the camera but also coat a back wall in honey from 100 paces. There was Judi Dench, and then there was Imelda Staunton, both loved by all. Helen McCrory – who has died at the age of 52 – was the next in line, and she was destined to be as great for as long.

Even in her late twenties, when she was barely known, she was already and obviously different. She had a face that seemed prematurely mature and wise. She didn’t look like anyone else, nor sound it. Her voice was a husky instrument that moved between romance and rage. It could seethe and seduce, conquer and coax.

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Categories Print Media Reviews The Seagull

The Seagull at the National Theatre – Review

It is the women who dominate this show

By Irving Wardle | July 9 ,1994 | The independent

Besides allowing Dame Judi Dench to add another trophy to her collection of Chekhov leads, John Caird’s production of The Seagull has the pretext of restoring a picture frame to the open stage; or, rather, four picture frames, which descend one by one on John Gunter’s lakeside perspective, so that by the end you are looking through the accumulated settings of the whole play. The apparent aim of this romantically cumbersome design, supported by Dominic Muldowney’s wistful valses oubliees, is to break the embargo on Chekhovian ‘atmosphere’. The effect is contradicted once the opening image of the ghostly company drifting under moonlit birch trees gives way to the play itself, performed with full egoistic drive in a colloquially muscular version by Pam Gems.

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Categories Print Media Reviews The Seagull

The Seagull at the National Theatre – Review

How does director John Caird avoid predictable performances?

by Clara Bayley | July 3, 1994 | The Independent

When actors portray actors, or worse, actors acting, it can become an excuse for over-the-top self-indulgence. Chekhov’s The Seagull, which is previewing now at the National, features both the celebrated actress Arkadina (played by Judi Dench, right) and the youthful aspirant Nina, performing in Konstantin’s experimental play. How does director John Caird avoid predictable performances?
‘That can be true of any ill-considered portrayal of a theatrical or of any kind of character,’ he points out. ‘You might cast someone who is 75 years old to play an old person, and they start playing old. You have to tell them to play young then.’

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