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Gwyneth makes West End debut

Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow was making her West End debut
Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow was making her West End debut  

LONDON, England -- Oscar-winning American actress Gwyneth Paltrow has received mixed but not unflattering reviews for her London West End debut.

The Hollywood star of "Shakespeare in Love" and "Sliding Doors" made her first appearance in "Proof" by David Auburn at the Donmar Warehouse on Wednesday.

She plays Catherine, daughter of an ailing mathematician, and while those in the packed audience described her performance as "superb" and "magnificent," the critics were less fulsome.

The Daily Mail said Paltrow, 29, had "the correct formula" in what Michael Coveney described as a "riveting play about maths and madness in sandals, windcheaters and dungarees."

He wrote: "Gwyneth plays a clear-skinned girl with a gentle, slow-burning passion and turns the play into a domestic drama of unusual wit and poignancy with the maths (or 'math' as they say, Stateside) as an extra."

The Times's Benedict Nightingale said Paltrow had a "rather limited range."

"She always looks too clean. Give or take the odd little outburst, she sounds too clean, too," he said.

The Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer said: "As Catherine, this luminously beautiful actress is intelligent, bewitching, troubled, and often deeply touching."

He added: "There was no doubt whatever that Paltrow thoroughly deserved her standing ovation."

One critic described her performance as virtually flawless -- right down to her toes.

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"It is not often one gets to see anyone acting with their feet. Ms Paltrow manages it however," said Valentine Low of London's Evening Standard.

"In the first few scenes she is wearing sandals and manages to use her toes to express annoyance, frustration, unhappiness and a whole range of emotions that some actresses cannot manage with their faces, let alone their feet."

Her debut comes 48 hours after Madonna opened in previews for "Up For Grabs," which officially premieres on May 23.

Paltrow's fellow Oscar winner Matt Damon is also in London playing to packed houses in "This Is Our Youth."

The trio are the latest in a string of big U.S. showbiz names, including Kevin Spacey and Nicole Kidman, who have forsaken big film cheques to work for modest fees in the West End.


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