Will Keira Knightley Be ‘Burned Alive’ by Critics???Date: 17 December 2009
Keira Knightley hasn’t given many interviews about The Misanthrope, but as she prepares to make her official stage debut tonight (17 December 2009, previews from 5 December) at the West End’s Comedy Theatre, one comment – in which she confesses her terror of the critics – has been widely circulated.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Knightley said: "(I know I will be) burned alive (by the critics). I'm not coming into it with any great expectations of coming away with great reviews ... I thought if I don't do theatre right now, I think I'm going to start being too terrified to do it. So I just thought, okay, dive in and give it a go. If my best isn't good enough, then so be it."
If preview feedback from theatregoers on the Whatsonstage.com Discussion Forum is an indicator of critical response, Knightley can take heart. Her debut has surprised – pleasantly - many; indeed, a much greater source of anger amongst audiences seems to be confusion about the apparent withdrawal of £10 day seats.
Martin Crimp’s version of Moliere’s comedy, directed by Thea Sharrock, is set in modern-day London, where Alceste (Damian Lewis) is a famous British playwright disillusioned and angry with the hypocrisy, shallowness and vanity of the contemporary world. Vowing to reject society, Alceste’s plans are derailed when he falls madly in love with Jennifer (Knightley), an ambitious American film star and darling of the social scene, who may prove to be his biggest challenge yet.
Ahead of press night, Knightley said that her experience on The Misanthrope, which continues until 13 March 2010, has been “extraordinary and incredibly fulfilling”. And she seems to have impressed her co-star Damian Lewis, an accomplished stage and screen actor, wh commented that she “understands theatre instinctively”, adding “I hope the critics are kind”.
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