The papers certainly seem to love Sienna Miller. When they are not talking about her private life, they are pointing out how papers tend to talk about her private life a lot. Miller’s latest appearance in the West End in ‘Flare Path’ makes her particularly newsworthy again, and according to the papers, her return to the boards has been a runaway success. The Independent declares that ‘A Star is reborn’ – “The last time she did a West End show it was a disaster – now she’s back to rave reviews” they tell us. A diary piece in the Evening Standard talks of ‘three curtain calls’ at the press night for Sienna, ‘proving to her critics that she really can act’.
But when we tried to find these rave reviews, we were stumped. Don’t get us wrong – there are some complimentary comments. According to the Evening Standard, ‘she brings to her role just the right mixture of glacial poise and agonized tension.’ But, the papers goes on, ‘it is the tightly controlled ensemble work that defines Sir Trevor Nunn’s subtle and deeply affecting production’ And there’s more, ‘The best performance, though, comes from Sheridan Smith as the Count’s wife Doris, once a barmaid. Always a warm presence, Smith radiates impish charm, but in her moments of doubt and sadness proves almost woundingly touching.’
And so it goes on – it’s the same story in The Independent, The Guardian, The Stage, The Daily Express, and even Radio 4’s Front Row spends the entire segment talking about Sheridan Smith before running out of time to talk about anything else.
What is going on! Every time we think we’ve found a ‘rave’ review, it’s trumped by either the ensemble case or Sheridan Smith. And that’s not including the downright mean reviews, such as the one in Time Out, which interestingly mentions the phenomenon of ‘celebrity casting’ in Rattigan’s time.
So was the search for Sienna Miller’s rave reviews a waste of time? Not really. It did bring home to us how much of a saleable commodity she is. And it’s not worth the papers ruining that for the sake of a few reviews of a show that will not run for very long and that very few will see. So, we have a compromise. The positive comments generally seem to appear either in the headlines or the first paragraph. And bolstered by plenty of interviews and articles, any negativity will barely be noticed.
Everybody wins. Except the theatregoer.