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Wednesday, September 23, 1998 Published at 01:32 GMT 02:32 UK


UK

Kidman takes centre stage

A revealing role for the Hollywood star

Hollywood star Nicole Kidman faced one of the toughest nights of her career on Tuesday when she opened in the new David Hare play 'The Blue Room'.

Although there were a few preview performances, the night saw critics descend to pass judgement on her stage talents at the Donmar Warehouse, London.

Kidman is the latest in a line of Hollywood actors to tread the boards in the capital. Kevin Spacey, Juliette Binoche, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes have all performed in the West End in recent years.

The actress, who is married to star Tom Cruise and usually earns 4m per film, will be working for the actors' union Equity's basic wage of about 250 a week.

An intimate performance

The play is directed by award-winning director Sam Mendes, has been adapted by David Hare from Arthur Schnitzler's sexually-charged La Ronde.

It explores the sexual intrigues between five different couples. Kidman plays all five female roles which range from a 17-year-old girl to an actress in her mid-forties. Her co-star, British actor Iain Glen, plays the five men.

The scenes are said to be very explicit - even Kidman's friends and fellow actors Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey were shocked when they popped in to watch her in action last week. Preview audiences are also reported to have squirmed with embarrassment.

To prevent the circulation of compromising photographs of Kidman on stage, audience members are being searched for cameras on the way in - several have been confiscated.

Meaty role

The revealing role promises to be a true test of Kidman's talents. The Australian actress is better known for her starring in the films Portrait of a Lady and Batman.

Before the previews last week she admitted to some pre-first night jitters: "It's a little overwhelming, but it's also exciting. I can't pretend that I'm not scared and nervous, though."

She last appeared on stage 10 years ago in a production of Steel Magnolias in Sydney and says she has been longing to return to theatre for some time: "Films are frustrating in terms of roles for women. In plays there are these great, meaty roles."

Kidman and her husband have been living in Britain for the past two years while they both work on Eyes Wide Shut - Stanley Kubrick's long awaited tale of sexual obsession.

Theatre goers keen to catch Kidman in The Blue Room may be out of luck. The play runs until 31 October but is completely sold out - the only tickets available will be a few rare returns.



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