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The knives are out …

Daily Mail, 20th February 2004

There’s a knife and someone gets their head smashed on a table.

This is the level of violence in the confrontation between actors Catherine McCormack and Michael Pennington in Hanif Kureishi’s scorching new play ‘When the Night Begins’.

Director Tony Clark mediates as he, the actors and I meet in the basement at the sprawling new Hampstead Theatre in North London.

Actually, I’m not sure I was meant to mention the knife, but it’s done now. I’m allowed to say it’s a thriller and Catherine McCormack plays Jane, the young widow of an older, wealthy film-maker, who visits a squalid flat where Cecil, an older man lives.

I vowed to be somewhat cryptic about the play’s sensational subject matter, but excerpts of our conversation might offer some clues. However, you should book tickets at Hampstead now if you want to know all. Previews start on March 3.

“It’s about how people interpret the past,” explained Catherine (best known as a film actress, but, luckily for us, now bewitched by the stage).

Michael added: “We all have versions of how and why it all happened.”

Catherine ventured: “Jane’s trying to exorcise the past. She wants to cut this thing out of her like a cancer and the only way she feels she can do this is to confront him and find some sort of catharsis.”

Michael told me: “Cecil’s argument is that she’s blotting out the good that I’ve done her and I’m blotting out the bad that I’ve done her.”

Catherine said that Janes’s husband had kept her secure, then he died. “The old ghosts are creeping back,” she added.

Director Clark describes the play as “and exercise in tension, as well as dealing with a rather emotive subject”.

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