1986: The Times

Mad, Bad And In Advertising

Diana Rigg's return to the theatre where she played one of her greatest successes, in Tom Stoppard's 'Night and Day'.

This time the bell-voiced actress has another new play, by the American dramatist Richard Nash. In Wildfire she plays a Madison Park Avenue advertising executive who kills her father and sets fire to the house. "Just a coincidence that the theatre is the Phoenix," she says.

Miss Rigg who, startingly, is now 48, says her role in Wildfire is a testing one. "The character I play is a Madison harpie - the kind of woman who is deeply distressed not only about her own life but about life all around her.

"She seeks refuge in alternative belief which leads her into a form of madness. One of the issues of the plays is, what is madness? What is normal and what isn't?" In researching her role Miss Rigg went off to see an analyst. "I'd never been to one before. He told me so many of his clients came from public relations and advertising.

"Why? Because they live with the lies, and can't live with themselves and the lies. After all, when you see the adverts on TV each one is more ludicrous than the last." But she refuted the notion that as many actress as advertising executives have an analyst on tap. "Actresses have no problems differentiating between reality and non-reality. The line is very clearly drawn."

She is looking forward to the challenge of the new part. "The great thing about a new play is that it comes unburdened with someone else's stamp on it. The part is all yours, and up of grabs."

This this the first time she and her husband, the theatre producer Archie Stirling have collaborated. "Despite what most people think, it gives me no extra leverage," says Miss Rigg. "We don't discuss work off stage."

However, at her first night in Bath Stirling did the decent thing in his dual role as husband and producer and sent a floral tribute. "A mixed bunch," said Rigg, looking at them. "I think it's called."

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