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21st August 2009

I went to the Globe Theatre for the first time last week and loved it. ‘Troilus and Cressida’ is a very difficult play, but fascinating nonetheless and this was an excellent production fuelled by excellent performances and – thank goodness- bursting with energy. My pal, the lovely Matthew Kelly is in it and is terrific, what a good actor he is, so versatile.
The Production has all the vitality worthy of Shakespeare and caught his spirit so well. We seemed to go through a time when Shakespeare was treated so preciously and frankly it made it very boring. These new productions have a life and spirit much more in line with what was originally intended. We got too caught up in the language and lost sight of the fact that these plays were written for the commercial entertainment of the day, the genius of Shakespeare’s language and his clear understanding of the human character, were almost incidental.

Anyway I will shut up on the subject now, but he was always the touchstone of what I do, in terms of character interpretation --my hero. The matinee was full and it is a great space, thank you Sam Wanamaker for fulfilling the dream and making it so. Dare I say, why did it take an American to re-create the Globe theatre? I do get fed up with the anti- Americanism that goes on in this country. I know my family is American, but I do think some of us drone on about how awful the Yanks are, when some of us have never even been there.

I was reminded by one of you kind readers the other day of Stewart Granger (an Englishman who went to Hollywood and never lost his Englishness!). I was asked about working with him on ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. Despite the fact that the lines eluded him from time to time, he was a larger than life charmer, full of stories and self confidence. No doubt he was like those of his generation of Hollywood stars, larger than life and a man who did not suffer fools gladly. I played Beryl Stapleton sister to William Shatner with other good people along: Anthony Zerbe and Bernard Fox another ex-pat.

I did like William Shatner a lot; he took himself very seriously and yet not seriously at all. He was amazingly confident and quite a lot fond of himself, but still likeable. I worked with him twice in LA, the other show being an extraordinary TV film called the ‘Horror at 37,000 Feet’, wherein I, a rather upper class English woman had decided to transport several mysterious giant stones looted from my ancestral home, big as Stonehenge, which basically took over the airplane. What a lark, but people liked it. It was well written (always the essential ingredient of a show that the audience likes).

Going back to Stewart Granger, I had met him before working with him. I was spending a few days at a fat farm, prior to doing ‘The Lion in Winter’ and had been spending time with Elspeth March, who had been married to Stewart Granger, prior to Hollywood, and with whom I had worked at the Mermaid Theatre in ‘Arms and the Man’(twice nightly – thank you very much!).

Elspeth was a charming cozy lady and Stewart (or Jimmie – his real name, but there was already a James Stewart- hence Stewart Granger) would come regularly to visit Elspeth. She wanted him to stay and stop smoking, but he was resistant and bored and used to whisk us both off to a jolly afternoon tea, complete with thick cream and jam – did a lot for our dieting!

I have always had a weight issue. I was a stick thin child, who refused to eat anything, until I went to boarding school, where out of misery and boredom, I ate everything in sight and even now will grab anything going if it falls in my line of sight and has chocolate, cream, or anything completely irresistible. Had I learned the joys of exercise, it might not have been an issue, but I loathed moving my body in any kind of healthy direction. It’s all easier now – a bit- as I do enjoy exercise and have managed to get food under control. It’s easy – just EAT LESS!

So there we are and fond wishes to you all.

with William Shatner, some four years after he took off the yellow T-shirt.
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