Maureen Lipman: “I would have to be completely crazy to support Boris Johnson” | Step



div itemprop=”articleBody” data-test-id=”article-review-body”> is met Maureen Lipman in the oldest way, on the phone, to talk about her new role. She stars in Martin Sherman’s Rose, which will only be available for three nights – to replicate the sense of the theatrical occasion – but online, rather than live. “It’s the story of a woman’s memory, from the Holocaust to the Six Day War, and beyond, and how she comes to take a stand on her own rather than just survive. The play begins and ends with a statement about humanity, rather than being Jewish or nice.She’s thrilled with the role – originally made famous by Olympia Dukakis – and points out that by the time you turn 74, parts don’t just end up on your knees. She’s also on Coronation Street, of course, and describes the adaptation of the two filming schedules to the unsociable hours and the high-demand midnight taxis of the actor. However, she’s so positive about Sherman’s work – “it’s as sensitive, intelligent, deep and deep a piece as I read it” – that you can feel a “but…” coming, and there is. has a.

“I had played Martin’s other play, Messiah” – that was in 1982 – “and I had an unfortunate experience: someone in Hampstead got up and yelled at me. It shook me. I’ve always been a very confident actress and never really questioned my confidence on stage, but it got me unsettled as a person. And then, of course, the BT commercials took place around the same time, and it suddenly transformed me from a working actress to a Jewish actress.

This announcement had a mysteriously huge impact. Lipman was Beattie, the caustic and witty Jewish grandmother (at one point her son, for reasons I can’t remember or guess, referred to her breasts, and she said, “Uh, they moved to south around the same time as you ”). It has been talked about so much that it rather overshadowed his earlier reputation: as a stage talent, a member of both the National Theater Company and the RSC, trained in Lamda, having grown up in Hull with a tailor father and mother. fiercely encouraging. . She was one of the sitcom favorites in the early 70s, and still memorable even in small roles, like Sylvie in Up the Junction.

“It suddenly changed me from a job actress to a Jewish actress”… Lipman as Beattie in the BT commercial.

Lipman doesn’t complain about being typed – she’s courageous and pragmatic about it: “You’re so happy to have a good game. Because I’m not going to be at Downton Abbey, am I? It’s a much more complicated point that she raises, which begins with the lockers. “In recent years we’ve all been in little boxes, aren’t we? You have to play what you are. The object of acting is to play what you are not. That brings us, ass on tit, if you’ll forgive the phrase (this whole conversation brought the ’80s back in a rush), into the trans debate. “They say, now no one can play a trans person unless they are. I think of Scarlett Johansson, she turned down a trans role because she said it wasn’t fair to take it. And it is a good choice.

“But we’re on a different timeline, because anyone can play Shylock, and they do. Anyone can play a survivor, and they do. Despite all that Lipman is renowned for being outspoken, I can’t understand what she is really thinking. Should someone be allowed to play Shylock? Did Scarlett Johansson Make a Right Choice? “I am all for the people who fight for their rights. Of course. But if somebody is playing a Holocaust survivor and I watch him on TV and I know he’s not and never was Jewish, do I have the same right to say, “They shouldn’t be playing this because they ‘right? ”

Going back to the role of Rose and meeting Lipman’s audience in Messiah, I wonder if there isn’t one more element to her apprehension about playing another Sherman piece – whether to delve into creatively in a collective trauma is actually quite traumatic to do. “Sherman’s first play was in the 17th century, so it was a different trauma, they were running from a pogrom. But yes, collective trauma is something I’m very aware of. I am very aware, especially in my business, of the attitude towards the only Jewish state in the world.

“I’m not going to be at Downton Abbey, am I?” … Lipman as Evelyn Plummer in Coronation Street. Photograph: ITV / Rex / Shutterstock

What a sequel: Maureen Lipman is famous for her defense of Israel. She actually picked up Beattie for a video attacking Jeremy Corbyn in the last election, but her falling out with the Labor Party went to the leader before – she was furious at Ed Miliband for supporting a House of Commons motion to recognize the Palestine as a state.

While she remains absolutely caustic about a lot of Labor and its works, she quite ironically admits her relationship to that party she has so often given up on. “I was a work lover, with Blair. I was not really a member of the party. She talks about everything Blair has had to deal with, from foot-and-mouth disease to the death of Princess Diana, to this other thing to do with cows (Mad Cow Disease, we both know at the times), “and he did it with grace, and style, and he did it with gravity and political sense. You had exactly the same situation with him and Campbell as with Boris and Cummings. People in power need advisers. ”

Does that mean she supports Boris Johnson? It seems like quite a trip from a Labor luvvie to this, and she is offended as she laughs. “I would have to be completely crazy to be a Boris Johnson supporter. And I am not. I don’t envy him what he wanted, because he understood it.

Yet in any conversation about politics, she remains primarily vigilant about Israel; even miles away from the subject, we sort of end up there. So we jump over Johnson and the mess he makes, go back to Labor and whether or not anti-Semitism is gone or not (“you can see it’s not”) and suddenly we’re at the explosion. in Beirut, which had occurred that day. “As soon as Lebanon arrived, I can imagine the guys who were ready to say, ‘Israel is at the border, would they, would they, could they? I am very grateful that Hezbollah said it did.

“He did it with grace and gravitas”… Lipman with Tony Blair in 2001.

“He did it with grace and gravity”… Lipman with Tony Blair in 2001. Photograph: Rex / Shutterstock

Wait what? It was an accident resulting from political madness, Hezbollah is not even the largest party in the Lebanese parliament, and certainly no one said it fact he. She makes noise as if we are simply agreeing to differ.

Lipman’s tough stance on Israel, she suggests, means she won’t work with some actors who support the Palestinian cause. “I’m not going on tour with The Killing of Sister George with Maxine Peake and Miriam Margolyes,” he said.

Peake, of course, would be an impossible acquaintance, after her recent comments – which she recanted – were deemed sufficiently anti-Israel that Rebecca Long-Bailey was kicked from the Labor Party front bench for retweeting her . But Margolyes is certainly different. Yes, she vocally supports Palestine, but they are two actresses of characters from the same generation (Margolyes is five years older) – they must have gone up for the same roles, been at the same parties for decades; there must be times when they meet and don’t talk about Israel?

“We saw each other at the weird funerals,” she concedes. “I wish him no harm. And she is a very successful left-wing socialist with several houses. Take my point. Do I have to say more. Well, unless you want to… “Most of the things I say aren’t that different to her.” We are stubborn women, we have a platform, we tend to spit out the first thing that comes into our feverish little brains. It’s just that, unfortunately, I’m right.


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