(Anita Gates’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/31.)
Eileen Brennan, a smoky-voiced actress who had worked in show business for more than 20 years before gaining her widest attention as a gleefully tough Army captain in both the film and television versions of “Private Benjamin,” died on Sunday at her home in Burbank, Calif. She was 80.
Her manager, Kim Vasilakis, confirmed the death on Tuesday, saying the cause was bladder cancer.
Ms. Brennan had had a solid career on the New York stage and in films like “The Last Picture Show” and “The Sting” when she was cast for the film “Private Benjamin,” a 1980 box-office hit starring Goldie Hawn in the title role.
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/26.)
Shakespeare's supposedly difficult comedy yields easily the best production of the current Stratford season. Director Nancy Meckler treats the play not as a problem to be solved but as a wholly beguiling blend of fairytale myth and gender politics: she creates, with the aid of designer Katrina Lindsay, a modern world in which sisterly generosity is sharply contrasted with militarised testosterone
Joanna Horton's excellent Helena is not the single-minded man-chaser Shaw so much admired. Instead, she presents us with a shy doctor's daughter who, spurned by her chosen husband, finds solace in supportive women. Horton treats Charlotte Cornwell's spikily gracious Countess as an adoptive mum and Natalie Klamar's sparky Florentine Diana, whose place she takes in her husband's bed, as a beneficent helpmate. One of Meckler's inspired touches is not only to present the notorious "bed-trick" in silhouette, but to show Helena and Diana lovingly clasping hands as they exchange rings. As for Alex Waldmann's Bertram, he is less an iredeemable rotter than the damaged product of a laddish, battle-hungry culture: it is clear he secretly fancies Helena but is seduced even more by the thrill of danger and a world in which the French gentry are "sick for breathing and exploit".