A female theatre dresser creates a stir and sparks a revolution in seventeenth century London theatre by playing Desdemona in Othello. But what will become of the male actor she once worked for and eventually replaced?
Based in the 1660's of London's theaters, this film is about the rules of gender roles in theatre production, and means to change them for everyone's benefit. Ned Kynaston is the assumedly gay cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with a member of the Royal Court, the Duke of Buckingham. One day however, the rules of only men playing women could change when aspiring actress Maria auditions as Kynaston's praised role, Desdemona, and soon enough, King Charles II decides to make the law that all female roles should be played only by women. Maria becomes a star, while Ned finds himself out of work. But after a while, Ned finds it in his nature to forgive Maria's aspiration, they may even fall in love, and Charles may proclaim women will be played by either gender. Written by
This movie is set sometime between 1660 and 1662, but the style of dress the men are wearing wouldn't be worn until 1666. That is when Charles II introduced the 3 piece suit (coat, vest & britches) to the court. The fashion caught on rapidly. Within weeks all the men of court were wearing suits. Even Samuel Pepys began to wear a 3 piece suit with a few months. This was also the time when men began to wear something tied around their necks. This combination of coat, vest, britches and neck-wear has been worn by men in some variation ever since. See more »
"Sex" is used by characters as shorthand for sexual intercourse, a meaning the word didn't have until the 20th century. See more »
Your old tutor did you a great disservice, Mr. Kynaston. He taught you how to speak, and swoon, and toss your head but he never taught you how to suffer like a woman, or love like a woman. He trapped a man in a woman's form and left you there to die! I always hated you as Desdemona. You never fought! You just died, beautifully. No woman would die like that, no matter how much she loved him. A woman would fight!
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He is exquisite, Billy Crudup I mean, but not as a woman. Strangely enough he is more feminine as a man than he is as a woman. Look at him in "Almost Famous" perfect. Shaped like a flamenco dancer, rhythmic, sexual, casually overpowering. In "Jesus's Son" just by waking up at the beginning of the film, he, his character, gets you. Here he seems at odds with the feminine aspect of his character. His Desdemona is a performance. What perhaps I'm saying is that I admired the performance but I didn't feel it. I was aware of its quality but I couldn't taste it, as I have done with previous Billy Crudup creations. Another strange thing, Clare Danes. I think she's one of the most interesting actresses of her generation and here you enjoy her enormously when she's on but her character is now a blurry dot in my memory. What remains most vividly in my mind is Rupert Everett's sensational turn as King Charles. All said and done, try not to miss it.
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