CURTAIN CALLS

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The Independent Culture
Say the word "Steed" and one half of the world will say The Avengers. The other half will shake their heads witheringly and instead invoke the name of the actress who may not have bounced around in Emma Peel's leather, but has done virtually everything else. Maggie Steed's (above) television range is remarkable, moving from Shine on Harvey Moon to Dennis Potter's Lipstick on Your Collar. Her bravura playing boosted the worthy Aids drama series Intimate Contact and she even made accountancy sexy playing the wife of the cooking detective in Pie in the Sky. Better still, she's a formidable theatrical talent from gloriously high comedy (wickedly arch in The Game of Love and Chance at the National) to fierce tragedy (Edward Bond's War Plays for the RSC). In the last couple of years, she has played the title roles in Mrs Warren's Profession and Mother Courage - and now she's going even more operatic as the fearsome mother in Ostrovsky's The Storm. I say "operatic" as the play is best known as the basis of Janacek's Katya Kabanova. It's a dimension not lost on the director, Hettie Macdonald, whose last production was one of this year's new operas at the Almeida.

`The Storm', The Almeida, London N1 (0171-359 4404) from Thur

David Benedict

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