We gave it a B
An ambitious rendering of Jeffrey Hatcher’s 1999 play features an effeminate Billy Crudup as 17th-century London actor Ned Kynaston. Described as ”the most beautiful woman in the house,” Kynaston enjoys unparalleled success playing female roles until King Charles II (a bawdy Rupert Everett) revokes a royal proclamation forbidding actresses to tread the boards. The corseted Kynaston is out of a job unless he can find his manhood, as Maria (Claire Danes), his dresser/love interest, is catapulted to stardom. Director Richard Eyre (Iris) ably intertwines ideas about identity, love, and artifice with witty quips and fierce acting; Crudup in particular, with his makeup-caked face, poodle of a wig, and coquettish voice, embodies Kynaston to eerie effect. It’s too bad, then, that the story loses some of its focus at the end. EXTRAS While Crudup demurs that he ”didn’t have much time to reflect on whether or not I’m a hot chick,” the scant behind-the-scenes featurettes give cast and crew members the opportunity to gush about how pretty he is.