Daniel Radcliffe proves acting skills in London stage role

Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:15am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - British actor Daniel Radcliffe won plaudits this week for a new stage role as a bullied Irish cripple that takes him a critical step further away from his days as boy wizard Harry Potter.

In his third foray onto the stage in six years, Radcliffe adopts an Irish accent to play Billy, the bullied 17-year-old title character in "The Cripple of Inishmaan", a politically incorrect black comedy by Martin McDonagh.

Billy, orphaned in mysterious circumstances, is being raised by two surrogate aunts and longs to escape from his life on the Aran Islands in the mid-1930s and the mockery he endures for his physical deformities and daydreaming while watching cows.

When a film crew arrives on a neighboring island to cast for a Hollywood movie, Billy manages to persuade a boatman for a lift to the auditions and gets sent to the United States for a screen test. But his dreams do not pan out as expected.

This was 23-year-old Radcliffe's third time on stage as he builds a career outside Hogwarts and he was praised by critics for taking on challenging roles rather than settling back on the money he made over 10 years as Harry Potter or opting for soft film options.

In 2007, Radcliffe stripped naked in London and New York productions of the play "Equus" and appeared on Broadway in 2011 in the musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying".

His performance in "The Cripple of Inishmaan", that is running for 12 weeks at London's Noel Coward theatre, was described as "honest, sensitive, and unshowy".

"(He) proves, as he did in Equus, that he is a fine stage actor with a gift for playing social outsiders," wrote Michael Billington in Britain's Guardian newspaper.   Continued...

Actor Daniel Radcliffe arrives at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson