Another season, another nude Hollywood movie star leaving London audiences and critics gasping with admiration. In an echo of the fuss surrounding Nicole Kidman's brief disrobement in the West End (and subsequently, Broadway) production of David Hare's The Blue Room, Kathleen Turner bared all at the March 24 first preview of the new stage adaptation of The Graduate.
The London Evening Standard reported that Turner appears naked during the scene when her character, Mrs. Robinson, seduces hero Benjamin Braddock (played by Matthew Rhys). Turner emerges from the bathroom wearing a towel, which she soon drops. She then proceeds to play the remainder of the scene in the nude.
According to reports, the audience gasped and then apparently applauded Turner's state of undress. The Standard predicted that The Graduate would sell out its run as a result of the costuming choice.
Many later critics of The Blue Room maintained that the aura of success that hovered around the London production had more to do with the notoriety of Kidman's nude scene than the quality of the production itself.
* Based on Charles Webb's novel and best known for Mike Nichols' award-winning 1967 film, which starred Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock and Katharine Ross as Elaine Robinson, the world premiere stage adaptation by Terry Johnson features Turner and young British actors Rhys and Kelly Reilly respectively in those roles.
Johnson, the author of such plays as Dead Funny, Hysteria and Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick, will direct his own play, opening at the Gielgud Theatre on April 5, 2000, following previews from March 24.
Kathleen Turner, who last year did a one-woman play about Tallulah Bankhead at Britain's Chichester Festival Theatre, was previously seen on stage in the Broadway production of Cocteau's Indiscretions. Matthew Rhys' credits include a number of films, such as Julie Taymor's version of Titus Andronicus and Peter Hewitt's Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, as well as Peaches, Sorted, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones and Untitled Wales (the latter two opposite Jonathan Pryce). Kelly Reilly will also be seen in Peaches.
--By Robert Simonson
and Mark Shenton