When Vanessa Redgrave walks on stage in The Inheritance in London’s West End, about five hours into this two-part theatrical marathon, the audience bursts into applause. Just because she is there. But sitting in the Monday quiet of South Kensington’s San Lorenzo restaurant, where we meet for lunch, she makes light of her celebrity status. “Oh, there must have been a lot of Americans there that night. Americans always do that, clap the star when they appear. They’re very old-fashioned with their Broadway customs, in some ways. “But you feel a pressure to work harder, to get the audience to drop all those thoughts about seeing the stars and instead to think about what’s really going on. And you have to try to persuade them to turn the volume down, it’s always so loud. The whole of theatre-going America seems to have something wrong with its ears.” San Lorenzo is a favourite of hers, and we sit at a quiet round table that she has chosen in the restaurant’s cosy glass extension, with ol...

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