Funny, lively and a fascinating memoir; how Eileen Atkins has come to be one of our great actresses - the Dame from Tottenham.
Will She Do? is the story of a girl from a council estate in Tottenham, born in 1934 to an electric-meter reader and a seamstress, who was determined to be an actress. Candid and witty, this memoir takes her from her awkward performances in working-men's clubs at six years of age as dancing 'Baby Eileen', through the war years in London, to her breakthrough at thirty-two on Broadway with The Killing of Sister George, for which she received the first of five Tony Award nominations. She co-created Upstairs, Downstairs and wrote the screenplay for Mrs Dalloway (for which she won an Evening Standard Award) and at aged eighty-six, this is her first autobiographical work.
Characterised by an eye for the absurd, a terrific knack for storytelling and an insistence on honesty, Will She Do? is a wonderful raconteur's tale about family, about class, about youthful ambition and big dreams and what really goes on behind the scenes. Made a Dame in 1991, Eileen Atkins has been on American and British stage and screen since 1957 and has won an Emmy, a BAFTA and is a three-time Olivier Award winner; her theatre performances include The Height of the Storm, Ellen Terry, All that Fall and she has appeared in television and films ranging from Doc Martin to Cranford to The Crown.
There is something about those large eyes and that steadfast look that tells you that you are in the presence of a remarkable actor; and so it has proved in a career that has encompassed everything from Greek tragedy and Ibsen to Pinter and Albee, and that has led Atkins to be revered on both sides of the Atlantic . . . Vanessa Redgrave seems to have direct access to some other world. Judi Dench has the capacity to merge laughter and tears in a single moment. The greatness of Eileen Atkins, who is their peer, lies in her uncanny emotional directness and her ability to make her eyes the window to her soul - Guardian
For some of us she cannot be on stage enough . . . she makes you feel the particular thing she is doing can only be for you . . . And I would give away all my West End tickets to again watch Eileen Atkins, peerlessly subtle, conjuring up Shakespeare's women - and one of his men - in her one-person show - Observer