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Turner's prized nude scene

Stephen Dodd on Kathleen Turner's naked performance on the London stage.WHEN Nicole Kidman stripped on stage for the London production of The Blue

Stephen Dodd on Kathleen Turner's naked performance on the London stage.

WHEN Nicole Kidman stripped on stage for the London production of The Blue Room, reactions were predictable. ``It's pure theatrical Viagra,'' said one respected critic. Tickets for all seats sold out within two days.

At the age of 45, Kathleen Turner appears to be taking an altogether more courageous artistic decision. She is a mother with a 12-year-old child and an enduring, middle-aged marriage. Eight years ago, she was diagnosed as suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Where Kidman's evident glamour ran few risks, @@STYL cf,plabx Turner appears to be risking all for artistic integrity alone.

Her @@STYL cf,plabx role as mid-life seductress Mrs Robinson in The Graduate @@STYL cf,plabx has already been seen by preview audiences at London's Gielgud Theatre. In the famed 1967 movie of Charles Webb's novel, actress Anne Bancroft played it comparatively coy, emerging naked from a bathroom in a brief, split-second camera shot.

Turner, it is said, takes the role to its logical conclusion, moving from the bathroom dressed in a towel, only to drop it to the floor and play out the scene naked.

Her decision, which will doubtless please the play's producers, has been praised by fellow actress-Maggie Steed, who appeared nude in Dennis Potter's television play Pennies From Heaven. @@STYL cf,plabx ``Anything else for the part she plays in The Graduate @@STYL cf,plabx would be less than truthful,'' Steed says. @@STYL cf,plabx London playwright Terry Johnson has also backed her decision, saying the nude scene is more faithful to Webb's book than the sanitised film, which starred Dustin Hoffman as a young man who sleeps with Mrs Robinson, the wife of his father's boss.

``Go back to the book,'' suggests Johnson, ``and you find that a very holy film was made of it.''

@@STYL cf,plabx Kathleen Turner @@STYL cf,plabx shot to fame in her feature film debut, Body Heat, @@STYL cf,plabx in 1981, launching into a career that included winning Golden Globe best actress awards in two consecutive years.

Her movie pedigree has ensured approval from the theatre world for her decision to bare all in The Graduate. @@STYL cf,plabx Yet, inevitable concerns still linger about the West End's apparent drive to marry stardom and sensationalism.

``There's always a temptation on the part of producers to titillate,'' believes Maggie Steed. ``To some degree you are a commodity when you are topping the bill in the West End. But if the part demands it, you do it.''