theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
Originally posted in The Guardian.
With its mix of sensuality and intelligence, her portrayal of Hester Collyer at London’s Almeida in 1993 towers above all others.
Why is Penelope Wilton not more acclaimed? She did, admittedly, win an Olivier this year for her superb performance in Taken at Midnight, in which she invested the mother of a Jewish lawyer standing up to the Nazis with a breathtaking moral authority. But she has never, like so many of her distinguished contemporaries, been made a dame. Today she is also probably more recognised for playing Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey than for her theatrical achievements in everything from Shakespeare to Shaw to Hare to Pinter.
Of her stage performances, it is her Hester Collyer in Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea at the Almeida, London, in 1993 that towers above all others. Hester is a judge’s wife who has forsaken her husband to live with a former test pilot in a dingy flat in Ladbroke Grove, west London: something that, when Rattigan wrote the play in 1952, broke conventional taboos in its depiction of an upper middle-class woman’s insatiable sexual appetite. But part of Wilton’s brilliance lay in showing Hester as a woman torn between two worlds.
Visited by the husband she had abandoned, Wilton revealed a smiling warmth that suggested a faint nostalgia for the comforting routines of affluence. Yet in the presence of her lover, Freddie, Wilton was all rapturous ardour as she devoured him with kisses and artfully…
via Great performances: Penelope Wilton in The Deep Blue Sea | Stage | The Guardian.
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