An Illuminating and Entertaining Car Journey with Terence Rattigan – BBC ArchiveVoices – Review

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Christmas came early for me this week as I noticed the above was now released, so I treated myself to it, as it wasn’t on my Xmas list.

I had a 90 min journey to drive this week and so used that as a chance to listen to it. I got through it all on my journey there, and I enjoyed it so much I listened to it all again on the way home.

It’s great to hear Rattigan himself speak, and he expounds on some of his plays, views on theatre and playwriting. I absolutely loved it and gained some real insights into his work, into the man himself and into the art of playwriting and theatre. In this his centenary year Rattigan has (quite rightly) resumed his standing as on of the 20th centuries greatest playwrights. His views may not always be in keeping with a great many of the current trends taught in theatre schools. Personally I think he talks a HUGE amount of sense and would recommend this collection of interviews to students of theatre aswell as fans of Rattigan as you’ll certainly learn something.

I’m currently writing a paper on the critic Kenneth Tynan, looking partly at his reviews of Rattigans plays and it’s great to hear Rattigan himself respond to Tynans criticism. It’s quite saddening to hear Rattigan talk about the effect the critics had on him and why he stopped writing for theatre for 10 years due to it.

In one of the interviews he talks at length about his creation of “Aunt Edna” and how that was misunderstood (which he takes the full blame for, he had a deadline to meet and rushed the preface where he wrote about her). A fascinating part of this is his emphatic insistence that the playwriter treats the audience as a single entity. He talks affectionately of John Osbourne and their friendship and speaks extremely highly of Pinter and his work.

As has been proved this year, many of his plays are classics and still have the ability to entertain, and speak to a 21st century audiences. I find it sad that he’s dismissed by many of the current academics in the theatre world. He was certainly given a very brief mention in my post-war British playwriting module, and that was the first mention of him in my course. I wish I’d come across his work sooner. His craftmanship is something I really admire and have learnt from.

This is a fascinating collection of interviews spanning a really important part of British Theatre history. I’m even more of an admirer of Rattigan having heard the man himself. Get yourself a copy, settle down in a comfy chair with a Gin and Tonic and enjoy being in the company of one of the greatest playwrights.

STARS : * * * * *

 I also recommend this brilliant documentary that was on earlier this year which Benedict Cumberbatch hosts all about Rattigan.

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