l.uhrman's Runu'u and Juliet. But she appeared in Oliver Stone‘s (' 'Iiirn. Burr Steers‘ lghv Goes Down. and Thomas Vinterberg’s I! 's All About Inna

Next up. she plays the lead in Richard liyre's supremely entertaining Stage Beauty". and Danes just can‘t seem to stop talking about it.

‘lirm. well my agent received a script and my manager read it and he was really enthusiastic. so he scheduled an appointment for me and Richard to meet and greet before I'd gotten a hold of the script. I remember being very cranky with him about that because I generally like to be worked in to decisions like that. but when I read the script. I understood the sense of urgency. because it was kind of special.‘ Danes talks like a Big Apple flake. like someone whose speech patterns have been broken by too many (iestalt therapy sessions. though this probably has more to do with her vague adherence to the Method (she attended l.ee Strasberg‘s Theatre Institute for a while). But boy. is she good at spinning out a yarn.

‘So anyway. eventually I just wanted to meet Richard because the whole project was kinda daunting. There was pretty complex storytelling in there and the role of Maria was really technically demanding. But I knew I had to audition for the part. literally overnight I was expected to whip up some British accent and get what it means to be in the l7th century. I didn‘t think I was going to be able to offer anything of value.

‘So the day we were supposed to meet. it happened to be the most intense snow storm of like the last l5 years or so. record breaking snow storms in New York. People were immobilised. everything shut down. people were skiing down 51h Avenue and l didn‘t think I was going to make it because all the stations had shut down. We were all knee deep in snow but Richard insisted that I find some way to get there. I was desperate enough to manage to do so. and when I arrived. I just liked him immediately and everything started from there. He read material with me and coerced me into acting a little bit. Anyway. I did something right in that room because I found myself in lingland two months later in the middle of a scorching summer for which the linglish seemed unprepared.‘

Danes laughs. and so she might. as her performance of Maria (pronounced Mariah) in Stage Beauty“ is remarkable. Richard liyre‘s adaptation of an award- winning play by Jeffrey llatcher casts Danes as a dresser and trainee thespian who unwittingly brings about the downfall of the legendary female— impersonating stage actor Ned Kynaston (played by Billy (‘rudup) during the reign of Charles II (Rupert liverett).

Set at a time when only men were permitted to act. Stage Beauty‘s real beauty lies in the way it underlines something we already know to be patently true: that good—looking women make much better stage actresses than swarthy men. Yet to carry off such a part in a film directed by a former director of the National Theatre in London required Danes to prove she is an actress capable of raising her game significantly higher than the standards of the average Hollywood flick. Many young actresses wouldn‘t be up to the job. especially given the prospect of playing opposite Crudup. who spends much of the film in scene-stealing drag; but the part of Maria brings a sparkling performance out of this New Yorker.

It is a screen turn made more delirious by the fact that Danes herself. a pin up girl for young actresses everywhere. has no theatrical experience. ‘l know it's unbelievable.‘ she giggles breathlessly. ‘But it was great because my stage debut was on a film set and the audience were all paid extras who were forced to give a standing ovation at the end of my performance. That's really the way to do theatre.‘ Precious Claire Danes.

Stage Beauty, Dominion 1, 623 8030, Sat 21 Aug, 7pm. GFT, 623 8030, Sun 22 Aug, 8.30pm.


Before long, chances are we’ll see in the reign of King Charles Ill. But how different

will it be from that of Charles II? Invadlng England When first

crowned King at Scone in 1651. Charles II ruled only over Scotland and parts of England. He then invaded England and lost to Oliver Cromwell, before eventually regaining the throne in 1660. Charles lll couldn't engineer a pitch invasion at Twickenham.

Charles the despot

Charles II dealt with a troublesome parliament with a bit of despotism. He dissolved it

whenever the politicians got in his way. What chance Charlie III getting rid of Blair and Brown so easily? But the Prince should take note: his predecessor’s popularity soared once he made himself into absolute monarch.

Charles the third or fourth?

The present day Chaz won't be the first to lay claim to being the third Charlie to be King. The title was also claimed by young pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie. while he was exiled in Spain.

Catholic tastes

Plus ca change. . . Charles II had an affection for ‘alternative' religion (in the form of Catholicism). and a weakness for women. In fact he had 13 known mistresses, including Nell Gwyn. Though we're not suggesting for a moment that the present day Charles is so loose with his cannon.

Troublesome lads

Harry and Wills may be unlikely to marry into French blood. but what chance a liaison dangereux with bit of Eurotrash? Back in Charles ll's time, the trouble came from niece. Mary. who married William of Orange and ended Charles' cosy alliance with France.

19—26 Aug 2004 THE LIST 7