x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Redgrave softened with time and politics

Indeed were it not for Redgrave's commitment to communism during the 1970s he may have established his reputation far sooner.

Although less famous than his sisters, Redgrave had a successful career on British stage and screen.
Although less famous than his sisters, Redgrave had a successful career on British stage and screen.

A member of the famous acting dynasty, Corin Redgrave took many years to emerge from the shadow cast by his revered father, Michael, one of Britain's most celebrated postwar actors known for his Shakespearean eloquence and matinée idol looks. His glamorous younger sisters, Vanessa and Lynn, shared his talent on stage, and Vanessa, in particular, his politics off it. Indeed, were it not for Redgrave's commitment to communism during the 1970s he may have established his reputation far sooner for playing to perfection a series of establishment figures wrestling with their demons.

Educated at Westminster school, he took a first in classics at Cambridge, where he was a contemporary of Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and Trevor Nunn. In 1962, he appeared as Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Over the following decade, he gave a number of noted performances, including his Broadway debut playing an aristocratic pilot in Arnold Wesker's Chips with Everything.

His introduction to the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party in 1971 however proved to be a significant distraction from his artistic career. For much of the 1980s, Redgrave was involved in organising activities for the party - for which he claimed he was blacklisted - taking time off only to write his father's biography. When he did return to the stage and screen he seemed to have found a balance between his political interests and his desire to work as an actor. A compelling stage presence, at ease in both comedies and tragedies, he was at his most fluent in established productions by Shakespeare, Chekhov and Harold Pinter. Film brought him before a new audience: in 1994, he starred as the Scottish groom of Andie MacDowell's character Carrie in Four Weddings and a Funeral, one of Britain's biggest cinematic successes. He appeared in a number of television dramas while also maintaining the group he had founded with his second wife and sister Vanessa, the Moving Theatre Company.

He retained his radicalism, calling for the impeachment of Tony Blair over the war in Iraq in 2004, but the political fervour of his youth had calmed. "I see the renaissance of Corin's career coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall," said the film director Roger Michell in 1999. "I don't think the battle was lost, but the dogmatism was put to bed perhaps." His first wife, Deidre Hamilton-Hill, died in 1997. He is survived by their son and daughter and by his second wife Kika Markham and their two sons.

Born July 16 1939; died April 6. * The National