A female theatre dresser creates a stir and sparks a revolution in seventeenth century London theatre by playing Desdemona in Othello. But what will become of the male actor she once worked for and eventually replaced?
Based in the 1660's of London's theaters, this film is about the rules of gender roles in theatre production, and means to change them for everyone's benefit. Ned Kynaston is the assumedly gay cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with a member of the Royal Court, the Duke of Buckingham. One day however, the rules of only men playing women could change when aspiring actress Maria auditions as Kynaston's praised role, Desdemona, and soon enough, King Charles II decides to make the law that all female roles should be played only by women. Maria becomes a star, while Ned finds himself out of work. But after a while, Ned finds it in his nature to forgive Maria's aspiration, they may even fall in love, and Charles may proclaim women will be played by either gender.Written by
The "naturalistic" acting, as Ned and Maria perform in the later part of the movie, wasn't done until the 19th century. The "series of poses" acting done in the early scenes was the norm for some time after the film is set. See more »
King Charles II:
Why shouldn't we have women on stage? After all, the French have been doing it for years.
Sir Edward Hyde:
Whenever we're about to do something truly horrible, we always say that the French have been doing it for years.
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He is exquisite, Billy Crudup I mean, but not as a woman. Strangely enough he is more feminine as a man than he is as a woman. Look at him in "Almost Famous" perfect. Shaped like a flamenco dancer, rhythmic, sexual, casually overpowering. In "Jesus's Son" just by waking up at the beginning of the film, he, his character, gets you. Here he seems at odds with the feminine aspect of his character. His Desdemona is a performance. What perhaps I'm saying is that I admired the performance but I didn't feel it. I was aware of its quality but I couldn't taste it, as I have done with previous Billy Crudup creations. Another strange thing, Clare Danes. I think she's one of the most interesting actresses of her generation and here you enjoy her enormously when she's on but her character is now a blurry dot in my memory. What remains most vividly in my mind is Rupert Everett's sensational turn as King Charles. All said and done, try not to miss it.
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