27 October 1978: Evening Standard

Diana: My Guilt

The No. 1 dressing room at Wimbledon Theatre has a certain transit air about it not helped by Miss Diana Rigg wandering restlessly around singing "By the time we get to Phoenix..."

Two photographs of Mr Archie Stirling and Miss Rigg bounging their 16-month-old daughter on her shoulders try none too successfully to personalise the otherwise anonymous room. But Miss Rigg creates her own mood. "Right, who's for a drink?"

She is on her way, actually, to the Phoenix Theatre where she arrives with John Thaw in Tom Stoppard's new play Night and Day on November 8. We met after Peter Wood's production had this week been given its first preview performance at Wimbledon.

Miss Rigg was in a buoyant, optimistic mood. "I'm really looking forward to it. Seeing all the critics there. Deal old Milton's lovely white head. I'm not trying to oil the critics in advance but I love the first night business.

"I have very good eyesight on stage. I can see the first seven or eight rows. So if anyone falls asleep I know all about it."

Forgiveably, one might have expected to meet a rather different Miss Rigg. There she is, just past the 40th birthday, now celebrating her 21st year as an actress and motherhood is still something of a novelty. Has she changed? Not a bit - apart from the dramatic new hairstyle which has the long tresses trimmed back to the nape of the neck.

In Night and Day she plays an expatriate Englishwoman in a unnamed African State where John Thaw arrives leading a Fleet Street contingent reporting a political emergency there.

"We were packed last night. It went well. There is only so much you can assess in terms of reaction from an audience, particularly with Tom's plays which are more complex than anyone else's.

"In the script he has written my part as Ruth and Plain Ruth. She is an intelligent, highly articulate, witty lady who speaks her thoughts out loud, often to herself. That's what made is fascinating and challenging, It's very difficult to get across theatrically.

"It's obviously about journalists. The three who arrive are different sorts of journalists. Any lay person interested in the politics and ethics in journalism will be fascinated and people professionally involved like you will be doubly so. The journalists I know? Well, I see them in varying degrees of niceness."

Dusk was setting in quickly as we talked and mentioned her daughter, Rachael. Miss Rigg: "Seven p.m. is what we call 'the half.' That's what I've known it as all my life. But now it's something else. It's also Racahel's bedtime.

"Now I wish I was at home putting her to bed. It's been the first couple of nights I've missed this week. I gather she has been incredibly grumpy. Guilt? Oh yes, it's there. You can never rationalise it away, I'm afraid.

"Motherhood? Of course it changes you. You would have to be a monster if it did not. I'm altogether more respectable now." Might respectability be extended to marriage to Mr Stirling? An impregnable smile. "Next question, please."

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