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Rope

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Stage play by Patrick Hamilton. Minerva Theatre, Chichester (Chichester Festival Theatre--July 7 to August 7, 1993); Theater Royal, Windsor, Berks. (January 18 to February 5, 1994); Theatre Royal, Glasgow (February 14 to 19, 1994); Bath Theatre Royal (March 18 to April 2); Wyndham's, London (April 1--opened April 11--through May 7, 1994). Directed by Keith Baxter.

Cast (Chichester): John Barrowman (Wyndham Brandon), Alexis Denisof (Charles Granillo), Roger Ennals (Sabot), Simon Chadwick (Kenneth Raglan), Debra Beaumont (Leila Arden), Richard Warwick (Sir Johnstone Kentley), Dawn Keeler (Mrs. Debenham), Anthony Head (Rupert Cadell).

Cast (London): Tristan Gemmill (Wyndham Brandon), James Buller (Charles Granillo), Roger Ennals (Sabot), Simon Chadwick (Kenneth Raglan), Debra Beaumont (Leila Arden), Richard Warwick (Sir Johnstone Kentley), Dawn Keeler (Mrs. Debenham), Anthony Head (Rupert Cadell).

Related press: The Independent, "Production Notes / Anthony Head in Rope; Keith Baxter, the director of Rope, on how to make a thriller thrilling." April 26, 1994, by Clare Bayley. (text)

Reviews (Chichester)

  • Evening Standard, "Perfect Passions." July 12, 1993, by Michael Arditti.
    "A casualty of the trenches, his sense of exclusion is blisteringly portrayed by Anthony Head. And yet, when confronted with a true "sin," both character and actor reveal unsuspected depths of passion." (
    complete text)

  • Financial Times, "Rope ensures a reputation - Theatre." July 12, 1993, by Andrew St. George.
    "Head has the character down, fiddling at a cigarette, twitching at his cloak." (complete text)

  • The Times,"Thrills at Chichester but stilted didacticism on the London Fringe - Knot for the faint-hearted." July 13, 1993, by Jeremy Kingston.
    "Anthony Head builds from the cool, acerbic lines of the text a vivid portrait of a man adrift from the throng, dandyish, Byronic. [...] Head is splendid here, from the sob that escapes him as he lifts the chest's lid to the cogent, passionate outrage he expresses, physically damaged but morally incorruptible. A gripping evening." (complete text)

  • Evening Standard,"Right blend for coffee lover." July 14, 1993, by Robin Stringer.
    "...Anthony Head is currently pursuing a different kind of ambition to great effect." (complete text)

  • Sunday Express, July 18, 1993, by Clive Hirschhorn.
    "...a cynical Anthony Head who gives the best performance in an engrossing evening." (complete text)

  • Daily Telegraph, July 19, 1993, by Robert Gore-Langton.
    "...a limping war-wounded poet, an aesthete with depression (superbly played with camp affectation by Anthony Head)..." (complete text)

  • International Herald Tribune, July 28, 1993, by Sheridan Morley. See Spectator, July 31,1993.

  • Spectator, July 31, 1993, by Sheridan Morley.
    "...and in the casting of Anthony Head as the war-weary poet who thinks he can tolerate murder until confronted with one, we have the best-actor performance of this year." (complete text)

  • Plays and Players, August 1993, by Jan Whitehead.
    "Anthony Head plays the sardonic young poet with consummate skill." (complete text)

  • Plays and Players - "Barrie Stacey's Backstage Gossip," November 1993, by Barrie Stacey.
    "I still hope [John Barrowman's] magnificent version of the thriller Rope makes it to the West End in the spring with Anthony Head proving there is something in the Gold Blend coffee he drinks."

    Reviews (Tour and London)

  • The Herald (Glasgow), "Erotic thrills - Rope, Theatre Royal, Glasgow." February 15, 1994, by Ian Black.
    "The performance of the evening was undoubtedly that of Anthony Head, he of coffee-ad fame, revealed here as an outstanding actor. As the threads of the story spin themselves into the rope of retribution, Head, as the war-damaged and fashionably cynical poet, plays what could have been a caricature (he has a limp and a cane) to perfection." (complete text)

  • The Scotsman, "Rope - Theatre Royal, Glasgow." February 17, 1994, by Simon Berry.
    "All goes well until Rupert Cadell, a lame poet beguilingly played here by Anthony Head, smells a rat...." (complete text)

  • Evening Standard, "When Rope Springs Eternal." April 8, 1994. (text)

  • Daily Mail, "Timely full-frontal twist as this vintage melodrama swings back." April 12, 1994, by Jack Tinker.
    "Meanwhile, Anthony Head as a sort of upper class Angel of Dark Justice, stalks them with the pained hauteur and mordant wit of a man who seems to envy the fate of the corpse inside the chest. Not until his final valedictory speech are we entirely sure where his sympathies will lie even if the truth is discovered." (complete text)

  • Today, April 12, 1994, by Bill Hagerty.
    "Anthony Head, as Rupert Cadell, the languid poet wounded in the Great War who deduces the horror perpetrated by his young friends, is riveting, exploiting fully what is easily the best part." (complete text)

  • Evening Standard, "Frayed Rope Strains to Suspend Disbelief; Rope at Wyndham's Theatre." April 12, 1994, by Nicholas de Jongh.
    "...and Anthony Head as Rupert, an exquisite dandy-poet, with a limp acquired in the War and a red waistcoat. [...] And Anthony Head's Rupert, quaveringly supercilious and affected, tears passion to tatters in one of those whining cut-glass voices which thugs like to smash." (complete text)

  • Daily Express, April 12, 1994, by Maureen Paton.
    "Even the show's star Anthony Head is glamorous torpor personified as a limping aesthete who turns sleuth in the languid tradition of aristocratic amateur detectives and dallies awhile in moral debate before blowing the whistle on them." (complete text)

  • Press Association News,"Change of Taste For Coffee's Golden Boy." April 12, 1994, by Martina Devlin. (complete text)

  • Financial Times, "'Rope' regains its reputation - Theatre." April 13, 1994, by Andrew St. George.
    "Anthony Head as Rupert is all fancy and frolic, a cynical creature already world-weary and bored, but witty enough to know it. [...] His is decadence forced into moral standards by a specific case. Head has this character pinned down: fiddling, twitching, clumsy at dinner but deft in conversation." (complete text)

  • Independent, "Murder most horrid; Paul Taylor finds chilling parallels in Keith Baxter's production of Patrick Hamilton's Rope at Wyndham's." April 13, 1994, by Paul Taylor.
    "A limping cross between Wilde and Hamlet, Rupert Cadell is played by the charismatic Anthony Head, who is better at the languid asperities and puzzled hauteur than the pained contradictions and quavery unbosomings. [...] Sipping cigarettes, and with a deliberately goading air of superiority, he sets out to undermine Brandon's kinky bravado." (complete text)

  • The Times, "No piece for the wicked." April 13, 1994, by Kate Bassett.
    "Anthony Head's Cadell is the saving grace of the evening. He hobbles around with a crippled foot and inner pain balanced by laid-back panache, a flash of sarcastic wit, or a probing question like a suddenly unsheathed swordstick." (complete text)

  • Daily Telegraph, "The Arts: Killing for kicks. Rope still has the power to shock." April 13, 1994, by Charles Spencer.
    "Anthony Head, earning belated forgiveness for those dreadful Gold Blend coffee commercials, is superb as the poet, a booze-addicted homosexual fop whose apparent frivolity masks a terrible sickness of both body and soul." (complete text)

  • New Statesman & Society, , April 15, 1994, by Carole Woddis.
    "It has at its centre a bristling moral integrity in the shape of Rupert Cadell, the disillusioned, sardonic, battle-scarred poet, wonderfully played by Anthony Head: the smooth-talking Romeo of the Gold Blend ads." (complete text)

  • Daily Mail, April 15, 1994, by Jack Tinker.
    "Meanwhile, Anthony Head as a sort of upper class Angel of Dark Justice, stalks them with the pained hauteur and mordant wit of a man who seems to envy the fate of the corpse inside the chest. Not until his final valedictory speech are we entirely sure where his sympathies will lie even if the truth is discovered." (complete text)

  • Guardian, April 15, 1994, by Michael Billington.
    "Anthony Head as the languorous Rupert is all pear shaped vowels and wistful condescension: a compelling study of world-weariness battling with civic duty." (complete text)

  • Jewish Chronicle, April 15, 1994, by Valerie Monchi.
    "Patrick Hamilton's play, which inspired the Hitchcock film, ends on a crude moralistic note, but it is well worth seeing, not least because of Head's outstanding performance." (complete text)

  • Mail on Sunday, April 17, 1994, by Louise Doughty.
    "Anthony Head is brilliant as the tortured poet Cadell, half in love with Brandon and fighting the growing realisation that he is a monster." (complete text)

  • Observer, April 17, 1994, by Michael Coveney.
    "The odd, arch acting of two newcomers, Tristan Gemmill and James Buller, as the Leopold and Loeb-type murderous couple is deeply impressive, as are the performances of Anthony Head as the war-wounded cynical poet and Debra Beaumont as a simpering society gal." (complete text)

  • Sunday Telegraph, "The Arts: Old rope shows signs of fraying." April 17, 1994, by John Gross.
    "...he is played by Anthony Head, who is equally admirable in all the requisite moods--languid, cynical, desolate, roused to action." (complete text)

  • International Herald Tribune, April 20, 1994, by Sheridan Morley.
    "Anthony Head still gives a breathtaking performance as the war-wounded poet who comes quite literally face to face with death." (complete text)

  • Time Out, April 20, 1994, by Steve Grant.
    "Indeed, the only bright spot is Anthony Head as the arty Rupert Cadell, a crippled war veteran who turns on the precocious pair after picking up a rather pathetic clue, and who interrupts an act of rampant homosexual groping with which the director vainly seeks to beef up proceedings. Head is the man in televisions' famous Gold Blend ad and, to signal a change in direction, he has a new hairdo, a walking stick, and effete accent and a limp--everything, in fact, but an eye-patch and a parrot on his shoulder. But at least he tries, Ropey." (complete text)

  • What's On, April 20, 1994, by David Clark.
    "Despite the oddity of his casting, Anthony Head turns in a good central performance as Rupert Cadell, the Wildean aesthete with a gammy leg who provides the play's moral voice--although whether this exposure will be enough to shake off the smoothie image gained from his famous appearances in the Gold Blend commercials remains to be seen." (complete text)

  • Times, April 23, 1994, by Jeremy Kingston.
    "Anthony Head's Rupert, a crippled Byronic dandy, gets closer to the heart of the character than James Stewart did in Hitchcock's film." (complete text)

  • Spectator, April 23, 1994, by Sheridan Morley.
    "Anthony Head still giving a breathtaking performance as the war-wounded poet who comes quite literally face to face with death." (complete text)

  • Sunday Express, April 24, 1994, by Ned Sherrin.
    "One of this director's secret weapons is his impeccable casting. He did well when the play started at Chichester. [...] Anthony Head's poet is a bravura display. He speaks the famous London at night speech beautifully." (complete text)

  • Independent on Sunday, April 24, 1994, by Irving Wardle.
    "Head plays the limping Rupert as a sweet-faced boy who turns even the most waspish lines into a caress. You can believe in him as a poet: he can make Hamilton sound like T S Eliot. More to the point, his reversal from apathetic melancholy into ferocious action, reveals the character as one of Hamlet's most notable descendants." (complete text)

  • Sunday Times, April 24, 1994, by John Peter.
    "The central character of Rope is Rupert Cadell, the elegant, witty, brooding war hero (Anthony Head): his limp is a reminder of the mass killings that had been forced on people only a decade or so earlier, and his war reminiscences set the lurid plot in a harsh moral context." (complete text)

  • Times Literary Supplement, April 29, 1994, by Sean French. "Nietzschean tea on a dead man's chest, yo ho."
    "Head is flamboyantly effective in a role which Hamilton provided with rather too many "bits of business." It's an enjoyable performance, appropriately old-fashioned in style." (complete text)

  • The Guardian, "Must See." May 4, 1994.
    "Rope (Wyndham's, 071-867 1116). Patrick Hamilton's twenties thriller has sadly failed to catch on: it closes on Saturday. But well worth seeing both for Keith Baxter's atmospheric production and Anthony Head's superb performance as a dandyish poet with an ungovernable moral sense."

  • Plays International, June 1994, by David Jays.
    "Head's eye-catching performance evokes shell-shock sheltering behind amoral urbanity--even Wildean epigrams are delivered in a hollow voice racked with nerves, his jaw tense, his cheek sunken." (complete text)

    Related Press: The Independent, January 27, 1997 review of Rope at the Salisbury Playhouse. "Dominating the proceedings with a wonderful rangy, negligent charisma, Jasper Britton's sardonic Rupert would be equally at home in a drawing room or on the Jacobean stage. He may not capture quite as well as Anthony Head did the fact that Rupert is half in love with Brandon, which gives a cruel, counter-tow to his flooding realisation that this youth is a monster."

    Pictures

  • Bentley's Bedlam: Untitled Gallery.

    Sources

  • Anthony Head resume, 1997
  • Biography from ASH press kit, 1998
  • London Theatre Record, 1993 and 1994.
  • Plays and Players, August and December 1993.
  • Plays International, June 1994.


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    Page created August 1998; last updated January 11, 2001. Original material Betsy Vera (bentley@umich.edu). This website is for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by others.

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