Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

On the Right Road; from the Kama Sutra to a Pinter Celebration ... Rachel Halliburton Meets the Actress Who Bridges the Two

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

On the Right Road; from the Kama Sutra to a Pinter Celebration ... Rachel Halliburton Meets the Actress Who Bridges the Two

Article excerpt

Byline: RACHEL HALLIBURTON

INDIRA Varma's parents were nervous when their daughter told them she was going into acting, but their eyebrows shot even higher when, at the age of 21, she got her first major role in Mira Nair's controversial film Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. It was a precocious and daring debut, but many - including Varma - would have been surprised if they could have looked six years into the future and seen her as a well-established stage actress, with directorial names like Katie Mitchell, Sam Mendes and Harold Pinter hanging from her belt.

Varma is sitting snuggled into the stage door of the Old Vic when I meet her, absorbed in a book. I can see no face, but a mass of short, black, curly hair. It is only when I call her name that the face is turned up and I am greeted with the features of a girl who could be anything between 17 and 24.

Except that Varma is 27, and at the moment it seems the West End is lying at her flip-flopped feet. She is waiting at the Old Vic to rehearse Harold Pinter's One for the Road, and already - in what she acknowledges is a short career - this is her fourth time working with the man whose giant contribution to theatre is being celebrated both by the Lincoln Centre in New York (as part of a much-heralded festival) and in London.

"We were talking yesterday," she says, "about all the times we've worked together." The list is enough to turn any theatrephile green. "Harold first directed me in Celebration, then we acted together in Moonlight on the radio.

Last year I acted in Remembrance of Things Past [which Pinter and Di Trevis adapted from the screenplay he wrote in 1972]. And now this " "This" is perhaps the briefest way of describing the emotional turmoil of a role where Varma portrays

On the right road Gila (pronounced Jee-lah), a woman who maintains an extraordinary dignity before her captor, despite the fact she has been raped several times. The central character, Nicolas, is trademark Pinter (and played by him in this production): like the soldiers in Mountain Language (currently at the Royal Court), he is a man whose dictatorial fantasies allow him to turn the world into his sadistic playground. …

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