Lange Wows London Theatergoers

Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Jessica Lange braved the sharp teeth of London's theater critics and came out unscathed Wednesday, when local writers applauded her stark portrayal of a heroin-addicted mother in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Lange, 51, now joins fellow Tinseltown celebs Nicole Kidman, Kathleen Turner, and Macaulay Culkin on the short list of screen stars approved of by the often-merciless British stage press.

Some critics have complained that Shaftesbury Avenue — London's answer to Broadway — is being overrun by big names. That may change with Lange's acclaimed performance, which came one month after former child star Culkin's rave reviews for Madame Melville.

"If all the imports are as good as Ms. Lange, then by all means, let's stuff Shaftesbury Avenue with Tinseltown's finest," wrote Charles Spencer of London's Daily Telegraph.

Lange, who has never shied away from difficult parts, was also heralded as "a dramatic feast" and "marvellous." The Evening Standard noted, "this haunting journey is a voyage of discovery." The Guardian said she gave "a magnificently unsentimental performance."

For dual Oscar winner Lange, it is the risk that attracts? "I figure, if I can't take big chances, then why am I doing this?" she told the Times before her second London theater foray (her earlier run saw her successfully portraying Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, a part she has also translated onto the silver screen).

"I don't want to act just for the sake of being in a film this year, or something like that," she added. "You might call it brave or you might call it foolish or stupid, but it's just the way I am."

"I like London and I like doing theater in London. I could have done this in New York, but I thought, 'No, I'd rather do it in London,'" said Lange, who won Oscars for her roles as Dustin Hoffman's love interest in Tootsie and as Tommy Lee Jones' unstable wife in Blue Sky.

Lange next appears as Christina Ricci's mother in the depression drama Prozac Nation.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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