Poldark star Ruby Bentall stars in the first London revival of James Phillips’ award-winning espionage drama The Rubenstein Kiss. We talk to her about playing a Soviet spy and sacrificing everything for love and your political beliefs. Time to get booking!
The first London production since its 2005 premiere, The Rubenstein Kiss will have a limited season at Southwark Playhouse from 14 March to 13 April 2019, with a press night on 18 March.
1953. In the midst of the Cold War and with McCarthyism at its height, the world watched as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sent to the electric chair for allegedly passing US atomic secrets to the Russians. They protested their innocence to the last.
James Phillips‘ multi award-winning play The Rubenstein Kiss is inspired by this haunting true story and is the study of conspiracy, betrayal and the interrogation of guilt. The semi-fictionalised Rubensteins are a deeply devoted Jewish couple whose Communist idealism leads to their word being torn apart by suspicion and treachery, which then echoes through the generations.
Talking to… Ruby Bentall
Ruby Bentall stars as Esther Rubenstein alongside Henry Proffit as her husband Jakob, with Sean Ribgy, Stephen Billington, Dario Coates, Katie Eldred and Eva-Jane Willis. Joe Harmston directs for Devil You Know Theatre.
Bentall is perhaps best known for playing Verity in the BBC’s adaptation of Poldark. Other notable acting credits include Hils in ITV’s Jekyll & Hyde, Minnie Mude in BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford and Mary Bennett in BBC’s Lost in Austen. She’s also had film roles in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, Mr Turner directed by Mike Leigh, and Armando Iannucci’s forthcoming adaptation of David Copperfield.
What keeps you coming back to theatre?
I really miss the theatre if I spend too long away from it. I’m naturally a night owl so the early starts of filming never come easy. I love that you get to tell the whole story every night with a play, you go on a journey. Filming is so bitty and stop-starty. Also it’s the most incredible feeling to have an audience there with you in the theatre, responding to you and the play.
What attracted you to The Rubenstein Kiss?
The main thing that attracted me was the love and commitment between Esther and Jakob. I’m a real romantic, and the thought of sacrificing everything for love appealed to me. Also doing an accent and singing terrifies me, so I thought I should probably do it, as it’s good to scare yourself.
Tell us about your character Esther.
Esther is a fascinating character, she’s so ballsy. I don’t think I would have such tunnel vision on my beliefs. She sacrifices her children and her life for the love of her husband and her political views. I know earlier I said it’s incredibly romantic, but I also think it’s mad!
What do you know about the real-life Rosenbergs?
It’s brilliant because there is so much information on the Rosenbergs. When I first read the play, before I knew anything about the case, I presumed that the US government had got it wrong. But doing some research has shown me that Julius was actually recruiting and doing courier work for the Soviets and about Ethel’s role as an accessory.
Why do you think now is a good time to revive this play?
I think audiences will find it interesting as we’re currently living in a polarised climate, with extremes of political thought cropping up all over the world. There is also a strong anti-Russian sentiment in the West with the Salisbury incident, which you could argue has given rise to a new era of Cold War thinking.
Why should audiences see The Rubenstein Kiss?
It’s a perfect time to revive this play because it raises questions about the dangers of this type of thinking, from the state and its people, about extremism, communism and the power of idealism.
The Rubenstein Kiss runs 14 March to 13 April 2019 at Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £22 (concessions £18). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!!