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When She Danced

Location: Kings Head London, Playwrights’ Horizons New York and RADA London

Date: 1988 - 90 and 2013

I first directed this play at the Kings Head. After the success of my productions there of Easy Virtue and Artist Descending a Staircase, everyone, including me, expected When She Danced to be another triumph and transfer directly to the West End. Sheila Gish was an amazing Isadora Duncan, and there were many other fine performances in this most amazing of ensemble plays, including memorable appearances by Kevin Elyot, Owen Teale, Margaret Robertson and Angela Pleasance.

I was very familiar with Martin’s plays, having worked on the early stages of the Ian McKellen revival of Bent, and long wanting to direct the entire Sherman oeuvre! Martin inspires this kind of slavishness. Later on, I did indeed get to direct his monstrous Cracks. But this production of When She Danced, though generally hailed as a great triumph, started and finished its life at the Kings Head. Later on, due largely to Martin’s loyalty, I got to direct it Off Broadway, where it played at the Playwrights’ Horizons Theatre on 42nd Street, under the artistic directorship of André Bishop. Elizabeth Ashley portrayed Isadora in my production in New York. She was earthier than Sheila had been in the role, but no less affecting.

The New York production featured Robert Sean Leonard (who I’d known about from Dead Poets’ Society and who later he went on to star in House), and Marcia Jean Kurtz who was so good that she was nominated for both an Obie and a Drama Desk Award for her performance.

In 2013 I had the great pleasure of directing the play again, this time at RADA in London. The B&W photo above is from the New York production. 

Tim Luscombe, a young British director, who made his Broadway debut earlier this season, handles the shift in action from tragedy to melodrama to farce with ease.

TV Review, N.Y.

Luscombe is a major talent with a wonderful feel for atmosphere.

N.Y. Post

The perfection of Tim Luscombe’s direction, which strikes me as the nicest gift a playwright’s gotten in New York for years…

Village Voice

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