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Reviews: Keira Knightley Shines in West End Debut

The reviews are in for Keira Knightley's December 17th West End debut in The Misanthrope...and here are some rave reviews for Keira...

But first an article from InStyle UK:

Supported by a host of celeb friends, Keira Knightley took to the stage for The Misanthrope debut
Keira Knightley may be used to battling it out on the seven seas in the swashbuckling Pirates of The Caribbean series but last night she ditched her corset and hunky Orlando Bloom co-star for her debut performance in the West End.

The Brit actress was joined by a number of celebrity guests who were there to support the transition from big screen to London stage including boyfriend and actor Rupert Friend, Emilia Fox, Charles Dance and Rosamund Pike.

While Keira may be a newcomer to the stage, her Hollywood credentials have drawn in a phenomenal £1 million worth of advance sales, all eager to see her take on the role of Jennifer, an ambitious American film star in Moliere’s The Misanthrope.

Tickets for the production, that also stars Damien Lewis and BBC’s Waking The Dead, Tara Fitzgerald, have proven so popular that extras have been issued.

The Misanthrope runs at The Comedy Theatre until March 13 next year.

Here are some Keira Knightley/The Misanthrope Reviews...

After a hesitant start in her eagerly awaited stage debut, Knightley gets better and better
(The Daily Telegraph - 4 Stars)
In the early scenes Knightley seems a touch tentative, lacking in both energy and presence. In the second half however, in which she bitchily insults a false friend and has a real humdinger of a row with the jealous Alceste, she reveals both power and poignancy.

She also makes you realise why Damian Lewis’s splendid Alceste is so obsessed with the movie star, even though she represents everything he despises. There is a mystery to Knightley’s allure, and an endearing streak of mischief in her portrayal of the actress.
Knightley casts aside critics in thrilling debut (The Independent - 4 Stars)
Though the decision has certainly had the cash registers ringing their rocks off, the production was therefore in danger of breaking the play's own implied moral code by casting Keira Knightley, here treading the boards for the first time, in this latter role. The critical knives were unsheathed and quivering. So it's a tonic to report that Knightley finesses all this ethical fussing by turning in a performance that is not only strikingly convincing but, at times, rather thrilling in its satiric aplomb.

A poster-girl for natural thinness, she makes Olive Oyl look chunkier than Roseanne Barr. It's not just that she cuts a stunningly beautiful figure here; it's that she has real stage presence and knows how to use it.

Show this character a back and she will feel compelled to ruin a reputation behind it and, as a kind of more chilling variant of Alceste, she is first seen playing the virtuosic, I-diss-therefore-I-am cow to her toadying entourage. Knightley captures the driven irresponsibility of these friend-nuking flights with bravura brazenness.

She is also extremely fine in the scene where she turns the tables on her Lee Strasberg-like acting guru, Marcia, a parasitic vulture masquerading as a martyr-to-her-client.
Something of the Knightley
(The Observer)
She's as sculpted and svelte as a trophy. She's the coquette as maquette. It was truly ingenious to cast Keira Knightley in Martin Crimp's updated version of The Misanthrope. Knightley plays a Hollywood actress, a magnified version of her public self. The less she acts, the more she becomes the part. Crimp's play, given a sparky production by Thea Sharrock, carps at suckers-up to celebrity and at media minions; it does so with many postmodernist winks. And what's more postmodern than an attack on celebrity culture which features a celebrity?

Knightley is crisp and even – and she isn't meant to be deep – but she's too careful with her speech to be really funny. You can see her heading towards the end of a line; she pauses slightly before the start of the next so that the sense is slightly fractured.
(Mail on Sunday - 4 Stars)
So what of Keira? She plays the flirty American Jennifer who basks in her own celebrity without believing the surrounding hype, and she’s as poised as she is plausible. Her accent is spot-on and few actresses would look more glamorous in a jump suit.

But this is a world away from great acting, partly because the role doesn’t demand it. Knightley is compelling because she’s celluloid made flesh (bone, actually) and luminously lovely, not because she’s the Judi Dench of her generation.
Keira cuts it as the cool, cruel Hollywood flirt
(The Sunday Times - 4 Stars)

The malcontented Alceste may be the focal point of Molière’s finest satire, The Misanthrope, but in this new production the attention is most definitely on the actress playing Célimène. Because the slightly squashed and scruffy Comedy Theatre in London’s West End is for a few months being graced with the presence of the second highest-paid actress in the world in 2008: Miss Keira Knightley of Teddington
She was sweet in her breakthrough film, Bend It Like Beckham, panted and smouldered very prettily in Pirates of the Caribbean, was a sparkling Lizzie Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, and proved herself a real actress in Atonement. But celluloid is a cinch compared with the unforgiving, live-performance glare of the London stage, as tough a place as any pirate ship or cannibal-infested island. Can she cut it?
One of the highlights of the season, if not the year
(The British Theatre Guide)
With the draw of the elfin Keira Knightley, Thea Sharrock's updated revival of Martin Crimp's cynically sharp version of the Molière classic did not need to be good to sell out. However, it has turned out to be one of the highlights of the season, if not the year.

The only question on most people's lips was whether the indisputably gorgeous Hollywood icon would embarrass herself in making a belated stage debut. The actress is helped by playing a character that must contain much of her milieu and herself, albeit with an American accent.

After a nervous opening, the Atonement and Pirates of the Caribbean heroine really comes into her own, as her film starlet character gets angry with her insufferably jealous lover after the interval. From that point, she acts as if to the (West End) manor born in very strong company
Read more: The Best of the Reviews



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