Keira Knightley and Damian Lewis in The Misanthrope
(© Alastair Muir)
Keira Knightley and Damian Lewis in The Misanthrope
(© Alastair Muir)
Screen star Keira Knightley made her West End debut official on December 17 with the opening of The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre. The production has been directed by Thea Sharrock.

Martin Crimp's updated version of this Moliere comedy shifts the action from 17th-century Paris to contemporary London. The company also features, Damian Lewis, Tara Fitzgerald, Dominic Rowan, Tim McMullan, Chuk Iwuji, Kelly Price, and Nicholas Le Prevost.

Knightley, who has starred in such films as Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Bend It Like Beckham, and The Pirates of the Caribbean series, has fared well in her first high-profile stage appearance, garnering both respectful and praise-filled notices.

Among the reviews are:

Daily Telegraph
Keira Knightley in The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre, review
"In the early scenes Knightley seems a touch tentative, lacking in both energy and presence. In the second half however, in which she bitchily insults a false friend and has a real humdinger of a row with the jealous Alceste, she reveals both power and poignancy. She also makes you realise why Damian Lewis's splendid Alceste is so obsessed with the movie star, even though she represents everything he despises. There is a mystery to Knightley's allure, and an endearing streak of mischief in her portrayal of the actress."

The Guardian
The Misanthrope | Theatre review
"Knightley brings to the role fine, sculpted features, palpable intelligence and a nice mix of faux-innocence and flirtiness. Even if she doesn't always know what to do with her hands, she gives a perfectly creditable performance."

The Independent
The Misanthrope, Comedy Theatre, London
"…Knightley finesses all …ethical fussing by turning in a performance that is not only strikingly convincing but, at times, rather thrilling in its satiric aplomb."

The Stage
The Misanthrope, Comedy Theatre, London
"[Knightley's] Jennifer is the embodiment of the superficiality of celebrity…She plays her with an arrogant strength, within which Jennifer's self-belief is strong enough to banish any awareness that life is one big act."

The Times
The Misanthrope, Comedy Theatre, London SW1
"[Kinghtley] catches the waywardness, occasionally the steel behind the velvety manner, the narcissistic love of attention, but not the authority to explain how she can dominate a gathering by more than beauty. Partly the reason is physical. She's so wispy she could fit into an umbrella stand. Partly it's a want of vox, partly a lack of the assurance that more time on stage may bring her."

Whatsonstage.com
Review: The Misanthrope
"Could Keira cut it? She could, and she can, though one comes away from Thea Sharrock's revival of Martin Crimp's 1996 Moliere update admiring the girl's wittiness in playing a stick thin Hollywood starlet trapped in a career cul-de-sac more than dying to see her again in Congreve or David Hare. The readiness, if not the reediness, is all."