The National Theatre – when stars were stars

Monday 6 August 2007

Hush, hush, whisper who dares, Phil is having one of his “À la recherche du temps perdu” days again.

Heaven knows, it doesn’t take much to set him ambling off down Memory Lane of late.

This time it was simply an innocent footnote in the latest mailing from the National Theatre that pushed him over the edge and set him off.

My Hytner (or whoever writes his brochures for him) had suggested that the Whingers might like to visit the National Theatre’s new poster website where fine prints of posters from productions past (our alliteration) can be bought in exchange for money.

So the Whingers investigated and indeed it is true. If you have a friend who is just beginning to forget about the sheer awfulness of The Rose Tattoo you can now buy him or her a reminder in the form of a 30″ x 20″ poster of Wanamaker’s mug for just £50. Or a 5″ x 7″ version for a fiver. Or any number of sizes in between. Or one of each, as Andrew has bought for Phil for Christmas. Strangely you can’t buy My Fair Lady for some mysterious reason.

But we digress. The real point of the story is that these images threw Phil into a terrible fit of nostalgia as he was reminded of the days when the National Theatre put on productions stuffed full of proper stars.

Take the 1978 production of The Cherry Orchard for example which featured Ralph Richardson, Dorothy Tutin, Albert Finney and Ben Kingsley.

Or the 1987 production of Antony and Cleopatra starring Judi Dench AND Anthony Hopkins. At the same time!

And if you think Phil is being unfair by harking back on days when stars really were stars, most of whom are now dead, how about A Streetcare Named Desire just five years ago starring Glenn Close.

Yes, it’s not like the old days, as Phil will tell you. Ad nauseum.

Whatever happened to stars at the National Theatre? Alex Jennings and Simon Russell-Beale don’t count, by the way. They are very proficient jobbing actors whom we respect but they are not stars in any sensible sense. And nor is Tom Hardy. Larry Lamb isn’t either.

There must be some real stars left who aren’t dead. Suggestions on a postcard to Mr Hytner, please.

2 Responses to “The National Theatre – when stars were stars”

  1. Graham Says:

    What about Charlotte Rampling a couple of years ago in The False Servant? I’m assuming the MFL poster appears on the site for one night, then goes off for a week, then comes back for one night, then goes off etc.


  2. That’s very clever Graham. Took a while for the penny to drop. then I lol-led. Very good.


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