Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Starring Shakespearian actor John Barrymore, and directed by John S Robertson, this  silent movie version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was made in 1920 at Paramount’s Astoria studios New York and is the fourth of over 120 film versions of Robert Louis Stephenson’s macabre novel. It proved a tremendous success at the box office. The … Continue reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – A review

Gilead

This novel is one of President Obama’s favourite books. It is widely acclaimed as a book of meditative calm and spiritual intensity. Despite its success with a secular audience it unusually has a lot of openly religious content. Revd. John Ames is a Congregational minister and the chief character and narrator. He had experienced great sorrow for a long time in his life after the death of his wife and daughter. Many years later when 69 years of age however he meets and marries his second wife, Lila, who is much younger than him. The book has a quiet gentle almost mystical feeling of peaceful old age – a letting go of the things of life. John remembers grief but never without comfort, loneliness but never without peace.

Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky – Review.

Suite Francaise

This book has received critical literary acclaim as a masterpiece. The author gently captures the tragedy of war-time France, the conquered and the conquerors, and exposes the inner hearts and minds of the people in a way that is totally convincing. Daily emotional life is described in detail.

The social upheaval of war is made worse by the sudden invasion and escape from bombing. The plight of the refugees, their panicky exodus from Paris – villages invaded by exhausted hungry women and children battling to find a place to sleep, cars abandoned after running out of petrol. In the midst of this horror and turmoil of disorder, we see simple dignity of a modest couple searching for their lost son as well as greedy people trying to save their valuables and the murderous evil of the mob.

The Trouble With Me!

The trouble with me is I’m always to know; I’m in everything I do and I’m everywhere I go. I’m there when I wake, I’m there when I sleep; I’m there when I laugh and I’m there when I weep. I’m in what I make, I’m in what I see; I’m there when I speak; there is no getting away … Continue reading The Trouble With Me!

Fidelio: A Critic’s Disappointment.

Fidelio

Welsh National Opera Production

Hippodrome Theatre Birmingham 12/11/10

Future performances will be at Llandudno, Southampton, and Oxford.

At the outset I’ve got to say the other night’s performance of the opera Fidelio by Beethoven in Birmingham was a disappointment for me. This despite the inspirational nature of the music as a rousing, triumphant affirmation of the belief that the most important human qualities – love, courage and kindness – can exist in even the most inhuman of conditions. It is a story about a woman who disguises herself as a man working in a prison in order to save her husband who is languishing there through no fault of his own.

There were both tender intimate scenes and highly charged choruses. However, the emotional impact of the performance on me was lacking. The singing was first class and the soloists in particular deserve admiration given the great vocal skill and endurance demanded of them by the score. But to my mind the acting of the performers seemed wooden. What little movement on the stage seemed to happen in slow motion.

Alone in Berlin – Book Review

Alone in Berlin

by Hans Fallada (Translated by Michael Hofmann) Penguin Modern Classics.

The author of this absorbing novel has created a story about a decent character, Otto Quangel, who with his wife lives in Berlin during the second-world war. Working in a factory and living amongst a people whose private misgivings and criticisms of their political leaders are silenced by fear, Otto, also has a daily horror of the possibility of being reported to the authorities for having a wrong political attitude or for having committed some minor misdeed against the state. Such accusations could well result in arrest and torture or even a death camp. Yet he is prepared to communicate his criticism of the government’s oppression and unjust social policies as well as their military conquests abroad. For the regime in seizing absolute power, have destroyed any vestiges of democracy.

I wonder how we would react in similar circumstances? Thank goodness I do not have to face such a test. But many people in the world today who live under dictatorship have to find some way of accommodating themselves to corruption in their society while maintaining their self-respect.

Serenity prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not … Continue reading Serenity prayer