A question for stage and screen aficionados everywhere: what could be better than sitting down to tea with four of the most accomplished actresses around? That’s the feeling you get watching these straight-talking women reminisce through their lives and loves.
Last year cameras were allowed into the annual get-together of Dames Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins. Four friends coming together in the English countryside to enjoy themselves. Talking through their stage careers – roles they took and those they didn’t – it’s a candid glimpse into British stage and screen history. From their inner fears of being offered the role of a lifetime to play Cleopatra to the hilarity of dealing with the most infamous of thespians – Laurence Olivier, Plowright’s second husband.
There’s a toughness in these women – having experienced the early days in a profession that played on their anxieties and offered little support – they defy convention and are tremendous role models for women everywhere.
Smith and Dench are a commanding presence, given their work in some of the most talked about television and blockbuster films. However, all of their stories are equally emotive and insightful. Their irreverence is endearing; their laughter, infectious. It’s like you’re there.
What stops you from completely settling in, is the sometimes disruptive flow of the editing choices and jerky camera sequences. And then, it’s over. Way too soon.
About Tea With The Dames
Directed by: Roger Michell
Stars: Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Joan Plowright