The Sound of Dickens

Posted on by Tom Fleming

On a map of London, the Thames is a great blue ribbon winding through Lambeth, Rotherhithe, Greenwich and beyond. Of course, anyone who has seen the river will know that the blue colouring is a lie, that the water is as murky brown in daylight as it is in darkness. It has been like this […]

Never Work with Children or Audiences

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

This book consists of some eight hundred pages of actors telling amusing stories about themselves, selected by Gyles Brandreth, the talkative and twinkly former Conservative MP for Chester, author of The Teddy Bear Joke Book and a longtime lover of all things thespian. But if this all sounds rather off-putting, remember that Brandreth is always […]

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The Long Road to Leopoldstadt

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Until I read Hermione Lee’s life of Tom Stoppard, I didn’t know it was possible to bask in envy. As if being handsome, funny and a dazzling writer (and good at cricket and fly-fishing) weren’t enough, Stoppard is immensely rich – not just in money but also, Lee shows, in family, lovers, friends and even, which may sound pompous, moral qualities. ‘What is the Good?’ Emily asks in his 2013 radio play Darkside. ‘It is nothing but a contest of kindness.’ We learn of his devotion to his mother, brother, sons and grandchildren, his ability to stay friends with his exes and his work on behalf of good causes, beneficiaries of which include the opposition in Belarus, which he has supported since before Lukashenko came to power, and refugees encamped at Calais. There are a couple of brilliant paragraphs late in the book

The Master Builder

Posted on by David Gelber

Ibsen met Emilie Bardach, a beautiful Viennese Jew, in 1889. She was 18, he was 61. Their love affair ended by letter but Ibsen’s passion for her continued in his plays. The Master Builder, more than any other work, was inspired by Emilie, although Hilde is not a straightforward portrait. Ibsen once referred to Emilie […]

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Community Party

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

What do Paul Robeson, Vera Lynn, Michael Redgrave, George Bernard Shaw, Maxine Audley, ‘Mrs Dale’s Diary’, Arthur Askey and Lionel Bart all have in common? No, they didn’t feature in ITV’s recent ‘Twenty One Years of Entertainment’. These rather unlikely companions were people who at some time or another found themselves sucked into Unity Theatre’s […]

Interview with David Hare

Posted on by David Gelber

Reconstruction of the past can rarely be complete. While the physical surroundings and style of a period can be invoked, we can never reconstruct how exactly people feel or think at a given moment. I say this because it involves the question of honesty – a theme which David Hare, one of Britain’s major playwrights, […]

The Tragic Idea

Posted on by David Gelber

Titus Andronicus has always been the joker in the Shakespeare pack. The play is violent even by Elizabethan standards and not only violent but gruesomely and grotesquely horrible. Not surprisingly, therefore, it could never be made to conform to the image of Shakespeare evolved in Victorian England. The presence in the Shakespeare canon of such […]

Cutting Edge

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Not many playwrights are able to laugh when their first work is shouted off the stage and closes after the first night. But in 1921, at the age of twenty-three, Federico Garcia Lorca had few illusions about the average theatre-goer of his time. Professor Reed’s chapter on the contemporary Spanish theatre describes how, with the […]

A Fab Musical

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

I cannot deny that I went to The Hired Man armed with prejudices. When I, a mere sapling, left university, I was interviewed for a job at LWT by the writer of the book of the musical, Mr Melvyn Bragg, and he selected me, out of what I believe were literally hundreds of candidates, to […]

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