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Luther Reviews

Scene One


SceneOne Rating 4 out of 5

Who'd have thought an evening of theological intrigue could be so riveting? Well, Rufus Sewell for one - he's chosen this as his first appearance on the West End stage since getting a mixed reception as 'Macbeth'. This time the tables are turned: it's the play that creaks a bit, while Sewell is a powerhouse in the role of the great reformer. He has to be: writing at the start of the '60s, John Osbourne made his sixteenth-century anti-hero a counter-cultural hero in the spirit, somehow, of both his times. Away from the pulpit, the play sometimes trips over itself in its desire to entertain. Some of the humour seems clunkier than it must have done in the first production 40 years ago, starring Albert Finney. Happily, there's the always-excellent Timothy West and Richard Griffiths on hand: actors who can make just about any scene play. Yes, it's a bit long, but fans of Sewell shouldn't hesitate: it's a supreme turn.

Graham Leather

* Royal National Theatre Olivier

Start date: Thursday 18th Oct
End date: Wednesday 14th Nov

Theatre feature - 10 Things You Need to Know About Rufus Sewell

All you need to know about the brooding star currently in the West End's 'Luther'...
* Born October 29 1967 in London.

* Film appearances include 'A Knight's Tale' (2001), 'Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence' and 'Dark City' (1998), Kenneth Branagh's 'Hamlet' (1996) and 'Twenty-One' (1991) with Patsy Kensit.

* He shared a flat with 'Bridget Jones's Diary' star Colin Firth during their first year at Central School of Speech and Drama. Firth says: "Our digs were disgusting, a classic cowboy job. If it rained, slugs came in. It was pretty foul."

(webmaster's comment - the roommate was actually Jonathan Firth, Colin's younger brother)

* He is descended from Joseph Sewell, a roguish English highwayman deported to Australia in 1830. Or so he used to say: nowadays Rufus admits his ancestor may have been "more just a common thief".

* His Australian dad William was an animator who worked on The Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' and the mighty 'Roobarb and Custard'.

* Sewell and his brother Caspar were brought up by their Welsh mum, who let them wander around the house naked until they were 10 "because she didn't want us to be repressed".

* He still has a legacy from his rebellious teenage years: a conviction for shoplifting a mackerel. "It was pathetic, I had stolen CDs, clothes, food, and when I was finally caught, I was starving at drama school! I got caught stealing smoked fish and humus."

* He once confessed that he'd got into acting for the "sex and free sandwiches". Can't comment on the cheese and pickle, but... Stars he's rumoured to have dated include Madonna, Heather Graham and Emma Thompson. Actresses he's definitely been out with include Kate Winslet and Helen McCrory. He was married to fashion journalist Yasmin Abdullah from 1999-2000.

* Though period dramas such as 'Middlemarch' helped earn his reputation, Sewell finds himself slightly ludicrous as a romantic leading man. "Right now, I'd rather be unemployed than take any role where the first thing mentioned in the script is a frock coat."

* The world sees a hunk: he still sees himself as a chubby misfit. He says: "If I have any advantage as an actor it's because I've always had a profound feeling of ugliness. My greatest fear is turning slowly into Russell Grant."


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