Ashcroft, Dame Peggy

“Her portrayal of Shakespeare’s Juliet in John Gielgud’s production of Romeo and Juliet (1935) established Ashcroft as perhaps the outstanding Juliet of the 20th century (EB).”  (How is it possible to freshen the part of Juliet, one that is that old and that well-known?)  Wikipedia points out that her Romeos were played by Olivier and Gielgud and that “[c]ritical opinions differed as to the relative merits of her leading men, but Ashcroft won glowing reviews.”

I think it would have been an interesting experience to see Ashcroft, Olivier and Gielgud in Romeo and Juliet.  To call her one of the best Juliets of the 20th century is high praise indeed, and it’s sad that there appears to be no film version of this.  (She did more stage work than film and television work, but you can see her in The 39 Steps, A Passage to India, and The Jewel in the Crown.)

I found two other examples of Ashcroft’s work that sound interesting.  Playing Shakespeare is a television master class on the “art and technique of acting in Shakespeare’s plays (IMDB.com),” and it includes Ashcroft, David Suchet (of Poirot fame), Ben Kingsley (Ghandi), and Patrick Steward (Star Trek: The Next Generation), among other leading actors and actresses.

The second example is Six Centuries of Verse.  According to Netflix.com, “Academy Award winner John Gielgud hosts this educational series that presents a fascinating overview of poetry through the centuries. The emotions in each piece are brought to life with impeccable readings by a variety of masterful actors. Gielgud introduces each work, placing it in historical context and providing biographical information about authors ranging from Chaucer to Byron and Whitman, as well as more recent poets such as Dylan Thomas.”

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