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Knightley wins over critics with stage comeback

The British actress was mauled after making her stage debut in The Misanthrope in 2009, but she refused to let the bad reviews stop her from signing up for a stint in Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play.

And when the curtain went up on Wednesday (09Feb11), the Pirates of the Caribbean star managed to impress the audience and draw praise for her role as a headmistress accused of having a lesbian affair with her colleague.

Charles Spencer of Britain’s Daily Telegraph wrote that Knightley “displays confidence throughout before rising in the final act to dramatic heights that are shattering in their intensity.”

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The Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington said Knightley and her co-star Elisabeth Moss “prove as potent a combination on stage as at the box office”, adding: “(The) atmospheric, slow-burning and ultimately enthralling production proves far more compelling than I expected.”

Meanwhile, filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, who made Knightley a film star after casting her in Bend It Like Beckham, was blown away by the actress’ performance.

She tells the Press Association, “I thought it was very powerful, I’m a bit overcome. I’m so proud of Keira.”

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