Keira Knightley ‘has all the charisma of a goldfish’

Film star Keira Knightley is 'burned alive' by theatre critics for role in The Misanthrope

She said she feared she would be ‘burned alive’ by theatre critics – and now that the reviews of Keira Knightley‘s West End debut are in, we’re thinking: did someone mistake this for panto, with Keira as Cinders?

After all the excitement of Opening Night, she and her The Misanthrope co-star Damian Lewis are waking up to reviews which are, at best, mixed, and at worst, a metaphoric shot to the head.

The Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts led the barrage with the quip, ‘She has all the charisma of a serviceable goldfish,’ and mused, ‘Keira Knightley may be one of 21st century cinema’s revered objects, but on stage she proves little better than adequate‘.

Miss Knightley has a flawless face but it does not move about much,’ he continued.

‘In a film actress this is often an advantage but on stage it is a snag. It’s like giving a carpenter a blunt chisel.’

At The Express, Paul Callan was equally unconvinced.

‘Her lack of stage experience is sometimes painfully evident,’ he wrote, adding her acting was all on ‘one note‘.

He concluded, ‘It is rather sad that the heart-wrenchingly beautiful Miss Knightley does not come up to scratch‘.

The 24 year-old already feared the critical reception her performance might be less than stellar.

Speaking in a recent BBC interview, she told of her nerves ahead of the opening of the play’s three-month run at The Comedy Theatre.

After prophesying she would be ‘burnt alive‘ by critics, she shrugged, ‘I’m not coming into it with any great expectations of coming away with great reviews’.

But with gritty determination she explained her motivation, ‘I thought if I don’t do theatre right now, I think I’m going to start being too terrified to do it,’ she said. ‘So I just thought, okay, dive in and give it a go.’

Keira can take comfort in the fact she did manage to charm some of her audience.

Michael Billington, writing in The Guardian, said she displayed ‘and a nice mix of faux-innocence and flirtiness‘ on stage, and ‘Even if she doesn’t always know what to do with her hands, she gives a perfectly creditable performance‘.

Meanwhile, Paul Taylor at The Independent gave her the warmest reception, writing that her performance was ‘not only strikingly convincing but, at times, rather thrilling in its satiric aplomb‘.

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