INTERVIEW With Martha and Mary, Richard Curtis wields his pen for a cause

Richard Curtis knows the business of comedy. Four Weddings And A Funeral made us scream with laughter as did Blackadder and Mr. Bean .Then again in his directorial debut, Love Actually, he brought good tidings, warmth, great laughs and some sadness.

Richard Curtis is breaking out of the mould of being one of Britain’s funniest writers with his film Martha And Mary which he made for his charity organisation Comic Relief. He brings together a stellar cast to support his fight against malaria in Ethiopia. Written by Curtis and directed by Philip Noyce, Mary and Martha is the story of two women from different backgrounds who are brought together under extreme circumstances. Hillary Swank plays Mary, an American who takes her little boy on a trip to Africa, and Brenda Blethyn as Martha is an English housewife whose son heads to Africa as a volunteer. When both of their sons contract malaria, they embark on a journey of self-discovery to Africa, dedicating themselves to the cause of malaria prevention. Curtis’ own fight against malaria began in 1985 when he visited Ethiopia and was witness to the country’s famine and poverty. “It was after this trip that I started Comic Relief.” So, instead of a boring, technical record, he wrote a story that he hoped would draw the attention to the issue and make the world laugh.

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

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