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My Zinc Bed
Wednesday, 27th August 2008
21:00 to 22:10 (1 hour 10 mins)
One of Britain’s greatest stage actors, a darling of the indie film world and a Hollywood celebrity come together in My Zinc Bed, David Hare’s adaptation of his own play of the same name for BBC2. Jonathan Pryce, Paddy Considine and Uma Thurman star in the drama, a withering analysis of alcohol addiction and people’s urge to control each other through their manipulation of each other’s weaknesses. To give some measure of the intellectual ambition of the piece, Uma Thurman has described it as looking at the three characters’ ‘relationships to their addictions, pain management, romance, anxieties and self-definition.’
Back in the Seventies single plays on television, such as the Play for Today strand, were the norm. Though they were written specifically for TV, many of them were by famous playwrights such as David Hare. Given that the BBC (in collaboration with US cable channel HBO) can attract such an impressive line-up here, the genre might be worth revivifying.
Considine plays one of two alcoholics in the piece – Thurman plays the other. She is Elsa, the wife of internet tycoon Victor Quinn (Pryce); Considine plays Paul Peplow, a struggling poet whom the eerie Victor takes under his wing. By doing so Victor throws Elsa and Paul together and the pair quickly become emotionally entangled – because of mutual desire, and their shared love of the bottle.
The conversations between the characters can be elusive, high on subtext and non-sequiturs. ‘There’s a kind of heightened naturalism to the dialogue,’ explains Pryce. ‘It’s real – but it’s not quite. It’s just raised a bit.’ The play is a small chamber piece by Hare’s standards rather than one of his multi-charactered ‘state of the nation’ works such as the recent-ish hits Stuff Happens or The Permanent Way. But as Pryce puts it: ‘He’s almost like a great novelist who decides to write a few short stories and this is one of his short stories – but it’s still quintessential David Hare.’
Thurman’s role as the passionate Elsa, smooth on the outside, distraught on the inside, has, Pryce rightly believes, done her a great favour. ‘I think it is a huge performance for her. I think it’s the best thing she’s ever done.’ he says. He met her last when they both worked on the 1988 feature film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen when Thurman was only 17. ‘She went off and had a life,’ he laughs. But he feels that despite the litany of parts she has taken since, from roles in Kill Bill to Gattaca, ‘she’s never had a chance to do a character like this.’
Considine also turns in an excellent, visceral performance, and Pryce presents his sinister character with detailed mastery. It seems BBC2’s brave decision to take on an ‘ideas play’ has brought out the best in its unlikely trio of leads. And My Zinc Bed serves as a potent reminder of how theatre engenders a unique and vital form of television.
Description based upon the Daily Telegraph review.
=== File Information ===
File Name: My Zinc Bed (27th August 2008).avi
Duration: 01:08:45 (103,125 fr)
File Size: 543 MB (or 556,988 KB or 570,355,712 bytes) bytes
=== Video Information ===
Video Codec Name: XviD
Video Bitrate: 966 kb/s
Bits / Pixel: 0.189 bits/pixel
Resolution: 608x336 (1.81:1) [=38:21]
Frames Per Second: 25.000 fps
=== Audio Information ===
Audio Codec: 0x0055(MP3) ID'd as MPEG-1 Layer 3
Audio Bitrate: 132 kb/s (66/ch, stereo) VBR LAME3.90
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