By Marina Carr
In the Swan – by the RSC


What an extraordinarily meaty bit of theatre this is and one that I’d be selfish not to share.

For those of you whom have yet to encounter me, here’s one for free – recollecting and retaining aren’t my great points – either is pronunciation of anything greater (and including at times) one syllable words…so you can just imagine my exceptional pleasure when I sat down to discover that Hecuba (the play, the character and the production) was 20x better than watching England versus Wales; and by far the best thing I did in September. And…here I type 2.5 weeks later about my encounter and its stayed with me, every inch of it and I’m better for it.


It’s forceful and the audience can’t escape from it.  You are compelled to sit up, listen, watch and learn.

It turns your stomach, shocks and isn’t scared to seek out and show the complexity of human thought and behaviour.

It’s also tender.

Sub-text is shared potently by the playwright’s command of 1st, 2nd and 3rd person narration.

And with little reliance on props and the set – you actually engage further – and your imagination has a field day.

Ahh…and the actors.  When you beg your local theatre to get this production (if Stratford Upon Avon isn’t convenient), demand the original cast come to. And that includes the Director and the rest of the creative team. It was so superbly executed.

And you know it’s great when you come home and do Research
…with some of it resulting in me crazy-grinning in a lecture room this past Monday, inwardly skipping and being blown away by Marina Carr. Sadly, I didn’t have the courage to tell her how fabulous she is, but I did get to learn a little about her approach and passion for the subject. Her ability to deliver ‘the continual present’ in her drama is no small feat and listening to an actual playwright read their creation, is a huge gift. I know…I’m very lucky to have been there and am very grateful to her.

Hecuba runs until January 2016.

(image sourced via google images)

Someone at a Distance

By Dorothy Whipple


(image sourced from Publisher’s Website)

I shan’t remain tight lipped any longer for it’s clear this book needs to be shared…along with a feast of others that are defined as The Persephone Originals – but more on those later.

It’s immediate and fabulous.

Chapter One introduces Mrs North, perhaps the most detestable creation in literature, but then you move to Chapter Two and you meet Louise Lanier and you reassess, for Mademoiselle Lanier takes being self-centred and narcissistic to previously unreachable levels – which obviously encourages the page turning and your disinterest in anything else until you have completed the tale.

You won’t go bouncing around the house afterwards, but you will be amazed and impressed but Whipple’s ability to read and write character.  You’ll also do an incredible amount of thinking whilst reading and afterwards, about the decisions people make.

Affairs – yes the kind of relationships I wish to avoid – do provide excellent reading material and previous to exploring the one which is recorded in the book, I had pretty strong views on them. Now…I’m questioning them. Not in a ‘Are they good or bad’ sense, rather the outsider’s opinion. You see, Mr North (abhorrent Mrs North’s son) finds himself in the thick one, and generally I’d think ‘Well good riddance’, but then you start to realise he’s not happy, never really was and is incapable of fixing it. I can’t say I was entirely sympathetic, but I did want to have a word and let him know he could make better choices…and therapy is an option.

I’m not saying ‘Gee I really feel for husbands that run off with the younger version of Not Me’, but it got me thinking pretty seriously about point of view.  Specifically telling stories in a different way, and how opinion can really sway things.

Then I thought, what the heck why not do some writing exercises, so I did and now I’m thinking, oh what the heck you can too (if you like).  Don’t be alarmed, they are brief and fun. Just do a little visualising and get going.

  1. Describe the ‘other woman’
  2. From whose point of view did you write this from?
  3. Change the point of view (maybe to her mum’s, lover’s, friend’s…)
  4. How does the wife feel about the ‘other woman’? (maybe she’s relieved, disinterested…)
  5. How does the man involved in the affair feel ? (over the moon, embarrassed…)

OK…so maybe you didn’t do the writing but I hope you did the thinking.  And now I’d highly recommend clicking on this link and ordering a copy http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/someone-at-a-distance-classic.html.
And whilst it’s happily resident in your shopping bag, go and experience further online happiness by navigating around the rest of their catalogue before you click confirm sale.