Review of Union Theatre production of
"Darling of the Day"
A musical based on Arnold Bennett's "Buried Alive"
March - April 2013
DARLING OF THE DAY
UNION THEATRE, SOUTHWARK – 20 April 2013
It was a privilege to see the final performance of this spirited and accomplished production of the musical adaptation of “Buried Alive”.
The Union Theatre houses an audience of only 50, yet the stage was filled to bursting with a cast of fourteen top-rate professional actors – a mix of seasoned professionals and talented younger actors – plus a strong band of four musicians.
How could that be possible financially? It couldn’t. All the cast performed for free – all subscribing to the fact that this was a “showcase” event for them.
The biogs of the actors in the programme reveal a wealth of accomplishment on stage and screen – you will have seen the work of most of the cast at one time or another. The choreographer Matt Flint won the BBC TV programme “So You Think You Can Dance”, and his inventive work was performed with high energy and precision by the company.
There were high production values in costumes, scenery and props throughout – the show was a revelation. There was added excitement sitting at the end of the front row – frequently pulling my feet back as actors whisked by within inches, often entering and exiting with furniture and props for the scenes. Everything was done with panache and at a cracking pace.
Make no mistake, this was West-End standard, and a credit to all who contributed to the excellent production.
Arnold Bennett Society Charity Registration No. 1140053
BENNETT IN STAFFORD
6 JULY 2011
Elizabeth Leslie, Carol and Graham Gorton gave a talk entitled "Arnold Bennett's Five Towns", to Stafford U3A on 6th July at the Polish Club in Stafford. On a warm day they all arrived, in costume, to be greeted by an audience of 175 members of the Stafford group.
Extracts from The Old Wives Tale, Anna of the Five Towns and The Card were read. Carol displayed a number of Victorian undergarments, which included a reproduction of a corset of the time.
After about 40 minutes and a question and answer session, the afternoon finished with a cup of tea and biscuits. The questions continued over tea.
BENNETT IN SWITZERLAND
By Amanda Blair
I had hesitated about introducing Arnold Bennett to the ladies in my international book club here in Switzerland. What would they think of his take on the female psyche? How would Potteries dialect sit with natives of Auckland and Atlanta? Would their romantic ideas of the origins of the beautiful crocks they received as wedding gifts be smashed to smithereens after a fictional visit to the smoky Five Towns? Maybe. But armed with The Old Wives’ Tale as my thick, protective shield, I bit the bullet.
Arnold Bennett, or rather his lengthy novel, provoked diverse responses. The first of which being the question of why English bookshops across Switzerland didn’t choose to stock his work. Fortunately, the internationally-minded ladies all found at least one answer to that very valid query – amazon.co.uk. (Maybe the Arnold Bennett Society has others?) Many questions followed, providing far more thought-provoking discussion content than the pros and cons of online shopping. Why did Sophia and Constance deny themselves fun and laughter at all times? How could Sophia go to Paris and not find any romance whatsoever? (Or fashionable outfits and a cigarette holder at least?) Why did Arnold Bennett present all his male characters as such unappealing losers and dubious citizens? How could the author leave us with the disappointing thought that leading a proper life always elbows emotion out of the way, as seen in the lukewarm reunion of the two sisters for instance. Or, on a more practical level, why didn’t the book alternate chapters on the two sisters to prevent the reader having to wait so long to catch up with Sophia?
Our discussions were long and filled with entertaining diversions. I certainly didn't regret choosing The Old Wives Tale as "my" book. My personal conclusion was a surprising parallel betweeen the Five towns of the early 1900's and central Switzerland as I experience it today. Both seem to be worlds shaped by modesty, udnerstatement, a strong work ethic and merriment rationed to the odd carnival or funfair. If only we could invite Mr Bennett over to judge for himself whether some of my Swiss neighbours here are Sophias and Constances in the making - book club ladies apart of course!
BENNETT IN BIDDULPH
By Linda Shapcott
Back in the summer of 2009, when Arnold Bennett's Uncollected Short Stories first came out, John was asked by Biddulph History Society - of which he is a member - to give a short talk about the stories. Over the next few weeks this somehow grew into a request for him to produce a Christmas show featuring the stories. Being very keen on flowers but not on gardening itself, John agreed to produce a charity concert in aid of Biddulph in Bloom, the voluntary organisation that keeps our town looking so attractive. He called it "Arnold Bennett's Bloomin' Christmas Show". On the night, Thursday 9th December, plant life seemed dead under a covering of ice and snow but despite the treacherous conditions a hundred strong audience gathered in Biddulph Methodist Church's Victoria Centre for an evening of comedy, song and dance - all built around the theme of Bennett's writing.
The twenty strong contingent from the local ladies' choir, The Kingsfield Singers', delighted everyone with beautiful renditions of popular and folk songs. In the second half a reading from 'Vera's Second Christmas Adventure' introduced a selection of favourite Christmas songs and carols. Well-known to many AB Society members, but not to the Biddulph audience, were two members of the Leopard Spot Clog Dancers, Helen and Sheila, accompanied by Adrian on the concertina. Not surprising their first spot was introduced by a reading about the poetry of clogs from Clanyhanger. The clog dancers didn't disappoint with their energetic display, John had adapted two Christmas stories from the new collection for dramatized readings. With help from local friends, "The Life of Nash Nicklin" and "The Railway Station" turned out to be hilarious versions of Bennett and were warmly received by a very responsive audience. False beards were much in evidence in Nash Nicklin's story, and David Outwaite's recording of railway sound effects added atmosphere to the second introduction to AB's work and we hope that some, at least, will have been encouraged to read more of his books. Hilda Sheldon, the power behind Biddulph in Bloom, provided delicious light refreshments. With the help of a raffle the whole evening raised Ł550 for Biddulph in Bloom.
|9th September 2010 and the Lord Mayor of Stoke on Trent officially launched the "Clayhanger" 2010 Walk, to celebrate Hector Emanuelli's 90th birthday, and the 100th anniversary of the first publication of the "Clayhanger" trilogy. More details will appear in the Spring Newsletter.|
Our Day in Fontainebleau 2008
On 11th October, a party of members, including Vice President Ray Johnson and Secretary, Carol Gorton, joined our President, Denis Eldin at the unveiling of a plaque on the wall of the house in Fontainebleau where AB spent some time and where he wrote "The Old Wives' Tale". For a full report on the event with photographs and details of the DVD, please click on Fontainebleau.