Belfast Telegraph

Charlotte to spin captivating web of poetry and music

By Grania McFadden

Tonight's festival offering brings together three legends - one living, two dead.

Charlotte Rampling will be performing the work of Sylvia Plath in The Night Dances to the powerful music of Benjamin Britten.

Like Plath, Rampling has fascinated fans of her work since she made her breakthrough film, Georgy Girl, in the 1960s, and later, with Dirk Bogarde, shocked cinema-goers in The Night Porter - the story of a concentration camp survivor and her former guard.

She became known as the actress with The Look - the smouldering sex bomb with high cheekbones who left men quivering in her wake.

After watching her on screen, film critic Barry Norman coined the verb "to rample", which he defined as "an ability to reduce a man to helplessness though a chilly sensuality".

The French know her simply as La Legende.

Rampling refused to go succumb to the world of Hollywood glamour, opting instead to take her talents to Europe, and play the leading role in several French films.

She's made more than 80 films in her cinematic career, but says her choice of roles has always been dictated by a means of self-expression, rather than a desire for fame or fortune. And that choice has taken her into theatre, music - and now poetry.

She's appearing in Belfast for the first time in a show that marks the 50th anniversary of Plath, alongside the centenary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten.

She will read in French and English, while cellist Sonia Wider-Atherton performs Britten's cello suites.

Plath, who was married to Ted Hughes, died by suicide when she was just 31 years old, after a life dogged by depression.

Rampling, too, has been hounded by the black dog, and her sister took her own life at 23.

So Plath's writing in The Bell Jar and poems like The Night Dances resonate deeply with her.

"I read The Bell Jar when I was young and found it overwhelming," she said.

"Sylvia was ultra-lucid in her life and writing, and that offers one no protection at all, especially when you are very bright and brilliant too.

"A lot of artists are in that state of ultra-lucidity and it's an uncomfortable place to be in."

Expect an evening of haunting poetry and powerful music as the legends collide.

Belfast Telegraph

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