Dear Lupin Review

Studying in Bath, I am extremely lucking to be able to access brilliant theatre, with companies such as the Natural Theatre Company, and several very good theatres including the Theatre Royal Bath. This theatre programs some very good work, both created by the theatre, such a Bad Jew now enjoying a sold out run at the St. James theatre in London, and touring show like the  one I saw this evening, Dear Lupin.

I was not aware of the book this play was based on before I went to the theatre; and I must admit to not conducting the same amount of research I normally do, seriously once you have seen a production of Medea without knowing  what it’s about you do your research. Luckily the program had some very interesting interviews, and the play its self was very clear around characters, themes, and narrative, meaning that you never felt like you were left in the dark by the play, and could fully enter the world of the play.

The play is continually being described as humorous in reviews, and that is the only way you can. Although don’t be deceived this is not a play of gag after gag, but rather a depiction of life punctuated by well observed, well-crafted comic moments.

From the moment the play starts you are aware that you are not watching a tragedy, with Jack Fox as Lupin quizzing his farther Roger (James Fox) about himself, Master Mind style. This helps both to establish the central character Roger, whose letters the play is based around, and also helps to establish the play as a comical look at the relationship between a farther and son. From that moment I knew that I was going to enjoy this play, and it is punctuated by other similarly wonderfully comical moments, such as Roger and Lupin enjoying a meal of Gym shoes, as a description of Lupin’s mothers cooking, a criticism that continues throughout the play much to the enjoyment of the audience.

In the first act partially Jack Fox deftly dances across the stage sprinting from comic moment to comic moment of Lupin’s life. Throughout this James Fox as Roger provides a foil to the antics of Lupin moving with a slow grace across the stage, and providing a comical commentary of his son’s often exasperating behaviour. James Fox also provide a whole cast of characters that Lupin encounters through his life, two that stand out most are an aged prostitute, and a very well observed Montgomery, both of which were very funny.

As the play progresses thorough the life of Lupin and his farther, and they encounter the problems of ageing, and the effects of a hedonistic life style, the external characters lesser as the play focuses down on the relation between father and son. It is here that Jack Fox displays his skill as an actor, as he moves from the cheeking chappie of Lupin’s youth, to an older character, weighed down by, and confronting the effects of drug and alcohol addiction, a diagnoses of HIV, and an ageing and ailing farther. Although this does not sound very comical, the stoicism with which the characters confronts this is still comical, partially Rogers regular quips about illness and death. It is also this act which reflects a universal experience of a parent’s death, Lupin’s speech comparing the death of a loved one to a race horse is an especially brilliant piece of writing

Although this play starts quite slowly, it picks up pace very quickly as the audience is drawn in the very personal lives of farther and son through the letter is Roger. These letters provide a very strong backbone to the narrative of the play, as well as an effective way of providing a comical, very personal link to the characters.

Overall this is a very good play, with a brilliantly funny and clever adaptation by Michel Simkins, writer of What’s My Motivation a very humorous depiction of the life of an actor. The acting was also superb, bringing to life with great sensitivity and hummer these two wonderful characters. There is so much more I could say about how wonderful this play is, but all I will say is if you get a chance, do go and see it.

Favourite books

Whist writing this I had the song these are a few of my favourite things going round my head, but instead my favourite things are not ‘Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudel’ (yummy) but rather books, lots and lots of books. So here are my current top 5 favourite books.

The Miniaturist

Whist I love reading, and have tried doing it almost everywhere, yes even on my way to school, I walked in to a lamppost, there are very few novels that I have given up sleep for this is one of them. It is one of those brilliant books when it still has the same powerful impact it first had when reading; perhaps because it is so detailed there is always something new to discover within this wonderfully crafted world. It’s hard to pin down why I love this novel so much, it may be because it is so beautifully written, there is an ease and unforced nature to  Jessie Burton’s writing, which makes reading it a complete joy. Burton also has great skill in creating character you are completely drawn into the world of the protagonist Petronella Oortman, she is one of those characters who jumps into your imagination and stays with you. The other characters are also very well created, and like the world they inhabit jump out of the page. The thing that kept me up so late was the well-crafted compelling plot, which grabs you by the throat and pulls you in to a thrilling, tense, and beautiful world, which reveals the darker side of 17th century Amsterdam.  It is no surprise that this debut novel was Waterstones book of the year, and has been optioned by Company Pictures for a TV series, which I am very much looking forward to, as well as any other books by this extremely talented writer.

The Night Circus

This is another debut novel that I absolutely fell for, the easiest way to describe Erin Morgenstern’s work is beautiful; the language, the descriptions, even the book its self is beautiful with the red edges to the pages and the black and white dust cover, your immersed into a wonderful dream world. That is what this book is a dream world, it is compete escapism combined with the best and worst elements of human nature. The descriptions in this book are second to none, this is not surprising because Morgenstern is a multimedia artist, and her artist eye, and sense of aesthetic is evident throughout the book, partially in the description of the circus itself. This immerses you completely in the novel; you can almost taste and hear the circus when you’re reading the novel. This all helps the carry an incredibly tight plot which forces you not to put down, believe me I know I first read this book when I was taking my GCSE’s, really not my brightest idea.  It is simply a really brilliant novel that I would recommend to anyone.

A week in December

I was first introduced to the work of Sebastian Faulks when the BBC adaptation of the Birdsong starring Eddie Redmayne was first aired, however, it was not this novel which had the greatest impact upon me, although brilliant, it is the  perhaps lesser known, although fastest selling of his works  A week in December that I will always remember. It is commonly described as a state of the nation novel, which I think will come to symbolise the perilous place the Britain occupied in 2009.  It really is a novel that was written to respond to the rapidly changing circumstances within the country at the time; Faulks shorten the time scale of the novel in order to accommodate the recession starting after he had started writing this novel. However,  it was not the state of the nation aspect that I found the most appealing of the novel, perhaps because by the time I read it in 2012, and many of the aspect that he explores have changed greatly in that time. This is a book of great skill partially in his handling of character, in all of the novels of his that I have read this is something he always does very well, but here he expertly weaves many different characters lives to create a wonderfully crafted novel.

Brideshead revisited

Okay hands up, the first time I came across this novel was through the movie, not even the TV series which I still need to watch. The movie is brilliant though and I would really recommend it.  This is another beautiful tragic book (I’m beginning to see a theme here) for me everything about this book is perfect the characters, the plot, Waugh’s choice of language. But what makes this book so perfect is its heart, I’ve read other books by Evelyn Waugh and they all seem to lack the power and intensity of this novel. I think it may be that through the narration of Charles Ryder all of the characters are given so much life and soul, and the descriptions are so vivid that when reading it you feel as if you are there as if you could reach out and knock over some priceless vase. You can probably guess by now that I love this novel it is really brilliant and is always a novel that I would recommend to anyone, it confronts and explores so many elements of what it means to be alive, I truly think that anyone, at any stage of their life can take something meaningful and significant from this. Waugh is an absolute magician.

Rebecca

It’s got the point now where I’m running out of ways of saying how amazing books are but this is another brilliant book, if at times quite sinister. As a writer what Daphne du Maurier does best in my opinion is play with various genres and themes across the novel, all interweaving and complimenting each other. On the surface it is a Romance, set in the gentle country society of Cornwall, a sort of Miss Marple. What Du Maurier does with this is nothing short of skilful, taking elements of unthreatening genres and manipulating them in order to explore themes of jealousy, manipulation, and the control of the past. As well as skilfully manipulating genre’s Du Maurier also manipulates the emotions of the reader; I challenge anyone to read this novel to not feel afraid for the second Mrs De Winter, or threatened by the mysterious presence of Mrs Danvers.  The brilliance of this novel is reflected by the number of adaptations of this novel in theatre, TV and Film, the 1997 TV mini series is a very good adaptation, if you don’t have  time to read the book.

Beginings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, this is my blog, its been a long time coming and I’ve been considering it for nearly a year now. The reason I wanted to start Merry Shadows is to, in a very selfish way, give myself an excuse to write about two of the things I love most, theatre, and literature.

I’m not an expert in either field, just very passionate about both, as such anything I write is not an exacting view, but rather my opinion, in a moderate attempt to celebrate the wonderful work that is being and has been produced by writers, directors, actors, and a multitude of other brilliantly talented people.

But why am I especially interested in those two things? Well since I first picked up a book I have loved reading, as a toddler rather than a teddy bear I slept with a book. Growing up in a small rural community books allowed me to escape and expand my horizons, although a cliched idea, by opening a book I could be solving mysteries with the famous five, paddling down the river with Ratty and Mole, and casting spells at Hogwarts; and I loved it, and still do.

I discovered theatre much later on a week long school trip to London, and I can honestly say I fell head over heals in love, and I haven’t stopped.

I suppose that you could say that this blog is born out of love, as a labor of love, to express what I love; lets hope I don’t get to gushy.

Emma x