Written by Mike Bartlett in iambic pentameter, the piece takes place in the very near future: upon the death of Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales finally assumes the British throne, after 70 years waiting in the wings.
|It was great fun to watch this fictionalized |
portrait of the royal family with struggles
right out of Shakespeare and O'Neill. And
there was some great Hat Acting being
done by the actress playing Camilla.
|No, it's not Equus as directed by Bob Fosse. It's our hero as|
Prospero in The Tempest. I'm guessing his co-star is playing
Ariel, though I suppose it could be Caliban by way of Bowie.
|Tim made a splashy West End debut in the early 70s in this Hamlet. He played Laertes (here dead) opposite the Hamlet of a very young Ian McKellen.|
|American classics were fair game to P-S. He was scheduled for|
Death of a Salesman before he died, and here, he tangled with
Dame Helen Mirren in O'Neill's monster Mourning Becomes
I mentioned his career had a couple of high points, one of which was his recent success with King Charles III. Decades ago, he achieved an even bigger high point as a central character in one of the most respected television programs in the history of the medium.
P-S spent some time on Doctor Who, I'm told (don't watch the thing myself), as well as several other British programs which did not jump the pond to the US. But everyone agrees his greatest fame came from his pivotal role in The Jewel in the Crown, the 1984 mini-series which is regularly included on lists of the best television programs of all time.
|This love/hate triangle dominated the first episodes of Jewel in the Crown, and affected the later episodes in more subtle ways.|
|The plot of Jewel in the Crown hinged on the brutality which|
policeman Merrick inflicted on the Indian who dared love a
British woman. There was a hint of homo-eroticism in this
interrogation scene which I bet many viewers missed.
|Peggy Ashcroft and Tim Pigott-Smith did not work|
much together on the sprawling series, but they
walked off with the biggest kudos, well-deserved.
|Early in the series, Merrick had a soul and a|
conscience, just look at those eyes. They
reflect a longing to be accepted and a
deadening of the soul, simultaneously.
|Susan Wooldridge as Daphne Manners, who had the bad luck to|
fall for an Indian, then get gang raped, get pregnant, give birth to
a baby of uncertain paternity, then die. And in only 3 episodes!
The defining moment of the series (spoiler alert: it's a rape) occurred in the second episode, and by the fourth episode, this romantic triangle dissolved, and the focus of the series shifted to the Layton family, Brits who left England's middle class to settle in India and become part of the ruling elite.
|These star-crossed lovers gave way to another ill-fated couple.|
|Turns out THIS was the central romance of the series.|
Geraldine James and Charles Dance received big career boosts
from Jewel... Their roles were understated and a bit subdued
compared to the flamboyant performances surrounding them.
|Judy Parfitt's gin-fueled Mildred |
was brittle,tense, and unlikable
(I loved her)
|Rachel Kempson's serene Lady Manners|
sailed through several episodes. She is better
known to American audiences as mother to
Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave.
|Merrick performs an act of heroism which disfigures him|
for life, and begins his descent into degeneracy.
|P-S as Prof. Higgins brags to his housekeeper, while his creation looks on. It's Pygmalion, of course, but take a look at the gal playing Eliza. It's Michelle Dockery, star of Downton Abbey.|
He died last week at the age of 70.