Keira Knightley's stage debut divides critics

Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:21am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Critics were sharply divided on Friday over Hollywood star Keira Knightley's London stage debut, with one calling her "strikingly convincing" and another accusing her of "having all the charisma of a goldfish."

The 24-year-old "Pirates of the Caribbean" star was playing an American movie star in an updated production of Moliere's 17th Century classic satire "The Misanthrope."

She had said before Thursday's opening night at the Comedy Theater that she had not been expecting great reviews.

She told the BBC: "I thought if I don't do theater right now, I think I'm going to start being too terrified to do it ... so I just thought, okay, dive in and give it a go. "If my best isn't good enough, then so be it."

In the event, the tabloid newspapers were the most scathing about her portrayal of the ambitious Jennifer, while others ranged from faint praise to wholehearted approval.

"The critical knives were unsheathed and quivering," noted The Independent.

"So it's a tonic to report that Knightley finesses all this ethical fussing by turning in a performance that is not only strikingly convincing but, at times, rather thrilling in its satiric aplomb.

"She has real stage presence and knows how to use it."

The Guardian was similarly impressed.   Continued...

<p>Actress Keira Knightley arrives at "The Duchess" film gala during the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival, September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>