4 November 1995, Saturday
By Kate Bassett
Appearing in: Peter Hall's production of The Master Builder at the
Haymarket. Playing opposite Alan Bates's Solness with phenomenal nascent
brilliance, Hamilton is a refreshingly unvampiric Hilde Wangel, striding
into his sterile home like a back-packing mountain girl, naively fixated on
this tower-building man who once promised her the world in her
pre-pubescence. ''My saving grace,'' says Hamilton, ''is that I'd never seen
the play before. I just got a strong instant feeling of how she should be
played.'' Apparently the original costuming idea involved a split skirt and
Where has she appeared from? Hamilton, tiny framed but confidently
articulate, has reached the West End by leaps and bounds. From LAMDA, she
went straight into television. She is Mrs Forster in Pride and Prejudice.
Her professional stage debut was only in May at the Orange Tree, where she
shone opposite Tim Pigott-Smith in James Saunders's Retreat, interestingly
playing a more satanically calculating teenage traveller returning to entice
and trouble a man from her childhood.
But what about being up there with Alan Bates? ''Alan and Peter treated me
as an equal from day one, a great act of faith. But it is extraordinary. I
still get evenings,'' she confesses, ''when I'm standing on stage and
thinking, 'Good God, that's Alan Bates. What's he doing talking to me?' It
has been a seven-week masterclass, too. I operate completely off gut and
emotion. What I'm learning is the technical skills. Professionally, there
has been a terrific response. You just have to concentrate on the part, on
the play, or it could be heady,'' she says.
On acting: ''Listening is 90 per cent of it. Your character is defined by
everything around you.''
When not acting: ''I've had my nose in a book since I was very small. I
listen to Radio 4 a lot. I'm discovering jazz at the moment. I used to write
short stories. I never feel there is enough time: the world is so manic that
you neglect yourself. But my addiction is sitting in coffee shops, talking
(Submitted by Tara)