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'Second Lady' Star Wins Praise At Scottish Fest

August 27, 1985|MATT WOLF | Associated Press

EDINBURGH, Scotland — A California actress has won acclaim in her Edinburgh Festival debut, putting her one-woman show, "Second Lady," first on many theatergoers' lists.

"It's tremendously exciting," Elizabeth Huddle said in an interview at the Assembly Rooms, where "Second Lady" completes its two-week run Saturday at the world's biggest annual arts festival.

Her performance as Mrs. Joseph Erskine, the wife of a fictional U.S. senator who is running for Vice President, won the 45-year-old actress a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award this season.

The praise has been echoed locally, as "Second Lady" vies with more than 1,000 events for critical and popular notice during this city's cultural binge.

Alistair MacNaughton, writing in the Scotsman, Edinburgh's daily newspaper, called Huddle's work in the hourlong monologue by M. Kilburg Reedy "a compelling performance of the highest order." Flora Bennet in the weekly Festival Times found the performance "superb."

Huddle said she did not model the timid, self-doubting Mrs. Erskine on any real person, relying instead on her sense of what it's like to be a politician's wife.

"We all know women who become part of the political machine at the loss of their own identity," Huddle said. "Look at Joan Kennedy--she broke down."

But Huddle said her character's situation applies also to company wives and academic wives: "These are all women who have to support their husbands, who are defined by their husbands."

Huddle calls her present assignment a welcome antidote to her work on Broadway in March in the short-lived play, "The Octette Bridge Club."

"This may sound fairly radical, but I think we're facing the end of Broadway as we know it," said Huddle, who first appeared in New York in 1965 with the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center. "It will exist for the big musical only; serious theater will have to go elsewhere."

She says this doesn't bother her because she prefers to act in and direct plays in regional theater.

In January, 1986, she will star in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama " 'night, Mother" at her erstwhile theatrical base, San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater.

In addition, Huddle is interviewing for an artistic director's position in Seattle.

"I'm probably the only actress in America who has been in 'King Lear' three times," said Huddle, a veteran of the Oregon Shakespearean Festival at Ashland and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. "But I've never played Lear," she said.

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