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Evening Standard
02 May 1997

VICTORIA'S NEW GOLDEN AGE

FRIDAY PEOPLE

By Michael Owen

Sir Peter Hall had no sooner introduced Victoria Hamilton as a dazzling new
acting talent in his West End production of The Master Builder than he was
promising her she would next play Nina for him in The Seagull. 'I took it
more as a compliment than a commitment,' she recalls.

Hall made her wait two years but he was more than true to his word, offering
her a season that included not just Nina but the title role in The Provok'd
Wife and Cordelia in his upcoming King Lear. 'It's an actress's dream and
the bonus is that we are playing here, in the Old Vic, which established the
tradition of this kind of repertoire.'

Miss Hamilton, the daughter of a Guildford advertising agent, was just a
year out of drama school when her career went into orbit. She is now 26 and
joined Hall's company in the Waterloo Road after a year of playing
front-line parts with the RSC.

'I'm afraid I came away a bit disappointed with my experience there. It is
such a vast organisation now, it is hard to feel that you are part of a
genuine company and I don't think the training is what it used to be. It was
wonderful to be surrounded by that wonderful language spoken by senior
actors. The melody of the verse gets into your blood but the tuition I'd
anticipated didn't seem to be available.'

The actress has made her commitment to the Old Vic group in preference to
the film offers that inevitably came after the excitement of her West End
debut. 'Film is a very seductive prospect and I do want to be part of it one
day. But I function best if I have a plan or some sort of goal. I feel I
should do five or six years of good solid stage work before I think of going
in front of a camera. So, however tempting - and it was - I've decided to
stay away.'

The trio of parts she has collared - with Nina in Chekhov's The Seagull the
first to open on 9 May - recalls the glory days of the Old Vic under Olivier
when audiences could watch young actors measure themselves against a series
of roles and witness their development and growth to stardom.

'That's exactly what I wanted,' she enthuses. 'You so often hear that my
generation has missed the golden age and it was all so much more colourful
in the years gone by but I think we can regain that spirit. We have a
well-knit, tight acting group with a strong leader and I believe we can find
that excitement again.

(Submitted by Tara)