'Graduate' cast 'very positive' despite Ms Hall's scathing reviews

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The Independent Culture

Jerry Hall was rehearsing at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End yesterday, apparently in a positive frame of mind despite being slated by the critics over her first foray into acting for 10 years.

Jerry Hall was rehearsing at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End yesterday, apparently in a positive frame of mind despite being slated by the critics over her first foray into acting for 10 years.

Sacha Brooks, producer of the stage version of The Graduate, said: "The cast is very positive. It is a happy theatre but also an exhausted one." If this was indeed the case, it seems Hall did not trouble herself over breakfast with the pile of hardly flattering reviews of her first appearance as the seductress Mrs Robinson. The critics were united in their praise of the 44-year-old's figure which, after weeks of hype, she revealed during the play. But of her acting performance they were less than kind.

The Daily Mail critic slated her before saying that with "her kit off" the mother of four looked "pretty damn amazing". He added: "The Texan accent wobbled like a learner cyclist, her dramatic pauses sagged horribly and her range of emotions would not have discredited a retiring clam."

In The Times her performance in the role previously taken by Kathleen Turner was reviewed with a headline "Barely acting". The Guardian said the "honest truth is that there are many actresses around better equipped to play Mrs Robinson but they will not get a sniff of the role because they lack the requisite celebrity". Ian Irvine, writing in The Independent, said that while Turner had brought the role "the authority of decades of fine acting on stage and in cinema, Hall could only bring celebrity and the carriage of a cat-walk model".

Except for Mick Jagger, her former husband, who watched the performance and said she was "doing great", no one had anything nice to say about Hall's acting.

Which hardly comes as a surprise. As the hype about her involvement in the production grew, the director Sam Mendes said the theatre was in danger of being "held hostage by the lure of glamour". Mendes, director of the Oscar-winning film American Beauty, who persuaded Nicole Kidman to appear naked in The Blue Room, said really great theatre moments "burn their way into the memory... the majority of evenings spent in the theatre are disappointing but when it works, it stays with you for a lifetime".

Hall might have to put up with even worse. Monday was the preview and the first night itself, when "proper" critics are expected, is not until 8 August. Brooks said: "I don't wish to say anything until then. I am conscious of fuelling the hype."

Either way, it is unlikely that Hall, reportedly earning £10,000 a week plus 5 per cent of profits, will be bothered. Speaking when it was disclosed she was to take on the role, she said she was not upset by the comments the news had elicited. "I was amused, darling. Upset is something I don't do any more. I feel I've started on a new chapter, regained my self-esteem, got rid of the chaos in my personal life."

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