Kathleen Turner is starring in Red Hot Patriot The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, a new play by Allison and Margaret Engels. Ivins was the unflappable anti-establishment Texan whose journalism kicked butt where it politically counted. The play premieres this week at the Philadelphia Theater Company.
Arriving in Philly in last weekend’s deluge, Turner, said she is glad to be back in Philly in a play. Many remember her smoldering performance as Maggie in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof and she recalled her run at the Forrest Theater in the early 90s co-starring “the great cast- Charles Durning, Polly Holliday and who can forget, Daniel Hugh Kelly.”
“I’ve been onstage in Philly twice before and I found the audiences here to be very rewarding and thought this would be a great place to do this one.” she said by phone in her trademark sultry voice.
“This is a one woman show that came to me, last spring through my friends, the Engels, two sisters, who are journalists and teach journalism. Molly was a woman extraordinaire. We crossed paths because I have been on the board at People for The American Way for many years and our agenda is protection of the first Amendment. Watchdog of the religious right, is right up there too.”
“Both issues that Molly was involved with. She was our keynote speaker one year. I just thought she was wonderful and a vital journalist. When this came my way, I was very open to do this part just to honor her. It turns out that this play uses her material and I rediscovered how…funny, sharp and biting in many ways.” Turner said.
Turner is in fact coming off of two hits that snagged headlines, her occasionally nude Mrs. Robinson in the stage version of The Graduate’ in London and her Tony nominated performance last year as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Opposite Bill Irwin as George, who won for best actor.
“Martha’s a heartbreaker, you learn a lot about herself. She is so angry and unhappy for so many right reasons. Glorious that Bill and I found so much of the humor. Bill and I agreed that in truth George & Martha truly loved each other. When people left the theater they knew they hadn’t just seen two drunks screaming at each other…We did it during the Bush years. It was becoming a national habit to not face things and ignore the truth.”