ASHCROFT by Robert Tanitch

ASHCROFT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A festschrift for Dame Peggy Ashcroft, recent Oscar-winner for her role as Mrs. Moore in A Passage to India, on her 80th birthday. The brilliant Dame Peggy will also be recalled by American viewers of the TV series The Jewel in the Crown, in which she played the role of Barbie Batchelor, the retired English missionary schoolteacher accused of lesbianism. Her celebrators herein are John Gielgud, Sir Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness, Judi Dench, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Peter Hall, and Trevor Nunn, among others. Included are photographs of her every role on stage and screen, with quotes from the reviews, and a full chronology of her career. In England, Dame Peggy is recognized as one of the 20th-century's greatest actresses. Over the past six decades she has played in a full range of the classics, including 20 Shakespearean roles, five by Ibsen, four by Chekhov, others from Greek tragedy, Jacobean drama, and works of Shaw, Wilde, and Brecht as well as Beckett, Albee, and Pinter. She has been murdered time and again, drowned, poisoned, has shot herself and jumped out of windows. For many who saw the Gielgud production of Romeo and Juliet, she was the definitive Juliet, playing on alternate nights to Gielgud's Romeo and Olivier's Mercutio and Olivier's Romeo and Gielgud's Mercutio (she thought Olivier the best Romeo and Gielgud the best Mercutio). She is known as the ultimate technician, a master of realism, though as a young actress she was hailed for her melting voice and the ""sacred rapture"" she brought to Shakespeare, her role-playing genuine rather than theatrical. A well-deserved laurel and a great delight.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
Publisher: Century Hutchinson--dist. by David & Charles