The Royal Court Theatre presents
My Zinc Bed ( Archived )
By David Hare
7 September - 28 October 2000
Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
There is no further information for this production. For archival material contact the V&A Museum
(L to R) Tom Wilkinson as Victor, Julia Ormond as Elsa, Steven Mackintosh as Paul
Production photography by John Haynes
Direction: David Hare. Design: Vicki Mortimer. Lighting: Rick Fisher. Sound: Paul Arditti.
Cast: Steven Mackintosh, Julia Ormond, Tom Wilkinson.
“Three characters only, in a play about love, addiction and loss of faith. But what a play, and what a wonderful evening at the home of new British playwriting with a leading dramatist who was last represented on this hallowed stage in 1976!
“Sir David Hare has a habit of zipping in on the zeitgeist, of tapping the public mood about the politics of friendship and betrayal unmatched by any other contemporary playwright.
“the entrepreneur of the Internet, Victor Quinn, employs the penniless poet who has come to interview him for a newspaper. That poet, Paul Peplow, played with tremulous sincerity and bewitching sympathy by Steven Mackintosh, is a recovering alcoholic. Victors Danish wife Elsa, formerly a cocaine addict, and much younger than him, recognises a kindred spirit. She proceeds to get more kindred. Julia Ormond is utterly enchanting, while Tom Wilkinson as Victor plays his magisterial aloofness with a sly finesse and panache. Victor wants to test Pauls mettle. Paul knows that he cannot love Elsa without alcohol. The way Sir David posits this problem in clever, supple dialogue as one of real theatrical concern, marks a playwright at the peak of his powers.
“Each sentence has an inbuilt detonating charge. Mr Mackintosh sidles up to the stage from the back of the stalls, and recounts his story before enacting the struggle it involved. Addiction is the modern fashion. This pressing phenomenon is the subject of the best new play of the year so far.”
Michael Coveney DAILY MAIL Friday 15 September
“Faith has long obsessed David Hare. After dealing with convictions in Via Dolorosa , he returns in this new play to contemporary England and to our various substitutes for political or religious belief. The result is dense, rich and engrossing
“Addiction is one of the prime themes: addiction to alcohol, love or to the transient adrenalin of business as a substitute for ideals. Thus we see a penurious poet and reformed alcoholic, Paul Peplow, hired by an ex-Marxist millionaire, Victor Quinn, as a copywriter for his burgeoning internet business.
“But Quinn has a young Danish wife, Elsa who has also been rescued from drugs and drink. Clearly Quinn is playing some strange Mephistophelian game in which he seems to be luring the poet back in to alcoholic degradation to solace his wife and relieve his deadlocked marriage.
“On one level the play is a bizarre triangular drama with odd echoes of an old Ingrid Bergman movie, as when Elsa cries “Im not a stranger to self hatred”. But Hares real theme is the echoing insecurity of modern life, in which compulsions take the place of convictions. It is no accident that two of his characters are addicts, reformed or otherwise, and that Quinn has replaced his one time Marxist beliefs with the capitalist illusion of control. We are all hooked on something, Hare suggests, and if business is largely a matter of creating a nebulous confidence, then so too is love.
“Observant wit mates with a yearning for lost ideals; and two sides of the triangle in Hares own production are perfectly formed. Julia Ormond as Elsa hauntingly creates a woman who is irreparable damaged. Steven Mackintosh has the right hollow-cheeked intensity as the poet who cannot quite quash his faith in the liberating embrace of alcohol.”
Michael Billington THE GUARDIAN Friday 15 September
“What an immense pleasure just to watch and listen to the three actors in David hares new lay My Zinc Bed. As Paul Peplow, Steven Mackintosh introduces, narrates, and frames the action. He never once leaves the stage, yet never for a moment shows strain. He doesnt even seem to do anything, merely to be, which he does beautifully. Hes a vulnerable boy, a stiff washed-out reformed alcoholic, a man in love, a crummy journalist, a has-been, an adorable drunk, a shrewd poet, an adulterer, a man with all life ahead of him, a brilliant ironist, a man of honour with tears in his eyes. He falls in love with Elsa Quinn, a married woman and former alcoholic; and, as Julia Ormond plays her, you fall in love with both her and him. Its not just their bones and their skin and their youthfulness, its the transparency of their acting, the complete truthfulness of their behaviour.
“Ormonds Elsa in fact changes more than Mackintoshs Peplow; her emotions are more violent. The contrast between her strengths and weaknesses is moving; and her beauty, her composure, her despair become breathtaking. Victor Quinn her husband, a former Communist, now a famous capitalist computer chief is played by Tom Wilkinson. This is the hardest role of all: the chivalrous cuckold, the controller of human destinies who cannot control his own, the one in whom the plays politics become most overt. Wilkinson has the authority, the urbanity, the humanity to bring it off, and his virtues make the plays human triangle enthralling.”
Alastair Macaulay FINANCIAL TIMES Monday 18 September
JERWOOD THEATRE DOWNSTAIRS
MY ZINC BED