Director gives Tamsin a Bard moment
Actress Tamsin Greig has said performing Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown with Pedro Almodovar in the audience was like performing for Shakespeare.
The Episodes star and mother of three is starring in the new West End musical adaptation of Almodovar's Oscar-nominated film at the Playhouse Theatre in London.
Spanish director Almodovar, 65, joined the cast on stage for the curtain call at the opening night and was beaming as he took a bow.
Greig stars in the melodrama as TV actress Pepa, whose lover Ivan dumps her by leaving a message on her answerphone. When she sets out to find him she meets his wife and son, who she never knew existed, along with his new girlfriend.
The show has been adapted from Almodovar's 1988 black comedy by Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek, who also turned films The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels into musicals.
Haydn Gwynne, 58, plays Ivan's ex-wife Lucia who is suing him for deserting her 20 years ago and her resulting time in a mental state. Ivan is played by French stage actor Jerome Proton and Ricardo Afonso makes a star turn as the Taxi Driver and narrator.
Greig, 48, said of Almodovar's presence: "It's a little bit like having Shakespeare in the audience. You know that someone is there to whom the story is connected. And he's such a generous spirit so it doesn't feel overwhelming or terrifying. It just feels like you want to walk with him.
"And so knowing that he's in the room feels like you're in great company."
Almodovar insisted he had no secret to understanding the thoughts and feelings of women.
He said: "There is no secret. Women are not so difficult to understand.
"I think what is weird is that there are not many more movies or scripts talking about women's feelings.
"In this case this kind of a story is much more fun with women. Of course men, when we are abandoned, really we suffer a lot, exactly the same as women, but women are much more spectacular and much more risky. It is much better for the play and the movie."
Greig's Episodes co-star Stephen Mangan was in the audience for the show's opening night, along with Zoe Wanamaker, Sandi Toksvig, Graham Norton, Samantha Bond and Cherie Blair.
A previous version of the show which opened on Broadway in 2010 proved a flop after getting terrible reviews, and director, Bartlett Sher, said it had been a seven-year journey to get it right.
Almodovar said: "What moved me so much was that they believed so much in the film they wanted to do it again. They learned the lesson of Broadway.
"This is almost the opposite of how it was on Broadway. This is much smaller, the music sounds completely different, for the best and everything sounds much more appropriate."
Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown: The Musical is showing at the Playhouse Theatre.