….Margolyes’ performance is a wonder to behold. In the 150 minute running time (including interval), Margolyes is rarely off the stage (and when she is offstage, her absence is keenly felt). Mention must be made of the fact that that we rely on theatre to eschew the ageism of Hollywood and give a real woman such a wonderful leading role.
Though the title role was originated 20 years ago by Maggie Smith, who also interpreted her for the 2015 cinematic adaptation, Alan Bennett’s eponymous lady in the van could have been written for Miriam Margolyes. Funny, indomitable and with a manner of speaking the Queen’s English that turns any comment, no matter how banal or ridiculous, into oration, the British-Australian actress is the undoubted star of this first Melbourne Theatre Company outing for 2019...………………...With a gently witty script and marvellous performance by Margolyes, The Lady in the Van is an enjoyable exploration of mental illness, introversion, extroversion and the art of writing itself. This production won’t win any awards (with the possible exception of Margolyes) but will likely win a few hearts.
There’s no one I’d rather see in the role of Miss Mary Shepherd – the bizarre and bull-headed homeless woman at the centre of Alan Bennett’s The Lady In The Van – than Miriam Margolyes. Not even Dame Maggie Smith, whose performance in the 2015 film was showered in critical acclaim. Margolyes’ ability to impose herself onstage as an immoveable force, her Dickensian sense of character, her natural hilarity and talent for the grotesque, and the way she can render a comedic shell so precisely that the shape of the pain underneath becomes part of the armour – all these qualities make her the perfect choice to play an outsider who turns everyone else inside out.
For Margolyes, in a glittering career that has included several MTC appearances, The Lady in the Van is undoubtedly one of the high points. It’s a flawless performance in which she captures the essence of a sad but proud figure who lived life by her own rules. She also looks the part – like an unmade bed...……..
Margolyes' performance is bold, vigorous and comical, and intermittently reveals a vulnerability that allows us to see the inner turmoil and fractured mind of this peculiar, former nun who lives in her squalid van but still clings to a thread of dignity.
Margolyes clearly loves this material and brilliantly displays Dickens's genius for plotting, nailing human foibles, and shining light on social cruelties. It's a gobsmacking performance..
.....Miriam Margolyes is a force of nature, showing off every inch of her comic prowess as the ageing businesswoman. She has comedic timing by the bucket-load, really playing up to the audience; some of the things Rubinstein says are horrible, but you can't help but laugh out loud.
It's a comic tour de force and it is hard to imagine any other actress pulling it off with so much aplomb. Margolyes also touchingly conveys the loneliness of a woman isolated partly by her Polish-Jewish origins but also by her success as a businesswoman at a time when a woman's place was still perceived to be in the home ......
Esteemed British actress Miriam Margolyes clearly relishes the chance to read St Clair’s yeasted-up prose (“I will cross out the fluid and rotting meat,” she notes wryly). Margolyes can do James’ pompous, effete acolytes, and the ferocious desperation of James himself. An entertaining, thought-provoking historical novel beautifully read.