THEATRE / A Brodie of some note: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Strand Theatre

Here's an idea for a theme-party that would get the neighbours talking. The men all come in drag as Miss Jean Brodie, fluting in those prim yet preening Morningside tones, wrists sharply angled out, bearing impossibly erect, court shoes gleaming. The wives all come dressed in gym slips as her 'garulls' - Edinburgh's Marcia Blain School in the comfort of your own living-room.

After all, ever since Maggie Smith played Muriel Spark's dangerous heroine in the film, Miss Brodie has threatened to coarsen into a purely camp turn.

But Patricia Hodge, who now takes brilliant possession of the role in Alan Strachan's revival of the Jay Presson Allen adaptation, lets you see that it's actually a strange form of emotional repression, of a libido gone haywire, that has turned this war-bereaved Thirties spinster into a woman who lives through her elite cadre of disciples, to whom she offers apparent freedom from bourgeois stuffiness but whose destinies she is out to control.

Every nuance of the comedy is there in Miss Hodge's performance, particularly in the marvellous encounters with Edith Macarthur's disapproving headmistress. 'Chrysanthemums - such serviceable flowers,' Hodge declares, glancing at her boss's vase and inflecting the line with such serene disdain you expect the blooms to curl up and die on the spot.

She maintains the balance between what is magnificent in Miss Brodie with superb aplomb, but also gives out early hints of what is incipiently tragic about this 'born fascist'.

If the actress's fragile, bone china beauty serves to make her thoroughly convincing as a sort of teacher who would stir the hormones of pre-pubescent girls, it also brings out the paradoxically ascetic side of Miss Brodie's sensuality. When she slaps her former lover, the art teacher (David Yelland), you can really feel in the unsettling release of tension that this has been their first physical contact for three years. And in her misguided confidence that she's got all her acolytes taped, Hodge lets you see a woman who is as much a danger to herself as to them.

The 'creme de la creme' are a bit low- cholesterol in this production, though Jackie Morrison gives a splendidly judged portrayal of the clever pupil who, recruited to be Miss Brodie's spy, eventually becomes her betrayer. The Presson Allen adaptation, with its clunky flashback structure of the traitor-turned-nun being interviewed about her life years later by an American journalist, has none of the feline deftness of the novel's contrasting flash- forward technique. With sets constantly sliding on and off, the show feels both choppy and lumbering and the final stage picture with Miss Brodie, the nun and her younger self all picked out by spotlight can't be accused of over-subtlety in reminding you of their life-altering inter-relation. The production is worth seeing, though, for Hodge, who unites the audience in a communal schoolgirl crush.

'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie', Strand Theatre, London WC2 (071-379 5062)

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders