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Posts Tagged ‘Gertrude’

When Paul Freeman as Claudius spoke these words in Matthew Warchus’ production of HAMLET during the opening performances in 1997, he was looking at an alternative Gertrude to the one originally cast.

 Although I understand Diana Quick gave a very fine performance during the early part of the run, it was in fact Susannah York who should have taken the role. The news this weekend of Susannah’s death reminded me of this temporary indisposition caused as a result of a fall from the stage during rehearsals and how she pluckily made every attempt to return to the production as soon as possible, using a stick for some performances when she did eventually play Hamlet’s hapless mother. It was a special performance from an actress long admired for her work in theatre and cinema.

In fact, Susannah was able to make jokes about her fall and the latter certainly did not prevent her from appearing (even with her leg in plaster ) at the Friends’ Birthday celebration event to provide some most enjoyable readings alongside Joanna McCallum. Earlier that season, they had given us a splendid Alice Ford and Meg Page as they sought playful revenge on Leslie Phillips’ delightfully roguish Falstaff in Ian Judge’s lively and enjoyable production of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

Perhaps some lines towards the end of that play are appropriate as we recall Susannah York’s talents and warm personality (always so charming when you met her outside the RST),not forgetting her special and individual contributions to the 1996/7 season:

“..let us everyone go home,

And laugh this sport o’er by a country fire …”

Tony Boyd-Williams

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