Simple-minded identical twins Cora and Clarice have spent 15 long years yearning for power, a longing that Steerpike exploits to his own ends. Manipulating their envy of Lord Groan and his family, he convinces them to wreak destruction upon Gormenghast -- and with it their brother, the Earl.
As they set about bringing Peake's peculiar twin sisters, Cora and Clarice, to life, Lynsey Baxter and Zoë Wanamaker formed a close friendship. "It was extraordinary to create a character with another person. We had to come up with a joint vision," explains Baxter.
The two spent hours in the makeup department, putting together the sisters' unusual look. "We would read the book for clues as to what they should look like. Zoë and I have a facial quality that is similar, but we don't look alike. We both wore false teeth to give us the same mouth look and black contact lenses. We changed our eyebrows and wore long wigs."
A television and film actress, Lynsey Baxter's surreal characterization of Cora has drawn comparison with her role in the BBC's Psychos, a critically acclaimed drama also directed by Andy Wilson. "In Psychos I was playing a psychiatric doctor. Cora is someone who would be regarded as a patient," she laughs. She has also appeared in ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre's Dickens of London, After the War, Clarissa, and Bramwell, Series V.
Zoë Wanamaker recently returned to England after a triumphant performance on Broadway in the Greek tragedy Electra. "I was looking forward to doing something completely silly, something completely off the wall," says Wanamaker. Teaming up with Baxter as one of Gormenghast's bizarre twins fit the bill perfectly.
"Clarice and her sister, Cora, are very stupid," she explains. "They have been left by the rest of Gormenghast society. They are still in Darwin's waiting room. They have been trapped in a time warp, all alone in the west wing with nobody to play with, and all they do is think about themselves. They are extremely self-indulgent, extremely sad -- and extremely enjoyable to play."
Wanamaker has appeared in several ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre productions, most recently as the steely Miss Jane Murdstone in David Copperfield.
In Peake's words:
She and her sister were dressed in purple with gold buckles at their throats by way of brooches, and another gold buckle each at the end of hatpins which they wore through their gray hair in order apparently to match their brooches. Their faces, identical to the point of indecency were quite expressionless, as though they were the preliminary layouts for faces and were waiting for sentience to be injected.
-- Titus Groan, "Assemblage"
|Steerpike | Groan | Gertrude | Titus | Fuchsia | Flay
Swelter | Nannie | Barquentine | Clarice + Cora
Dr. Prunesquallor | Irma Prunesquallor | Bellgrove
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