FEBRUARY 2015 NEWS:

The Aeneid for Naxos
The Aeneid for Naxos AudioBooks.

Produced by Alec Reid, recorded at Phase Shift in Bristol by Ken Barton.
Read by me.

Recording the Aeneid, for Naxos

The Aeneid's CD cover

January 2015

Having read Classics many years ago, I've really enjoyed doing The Aeneid for Naxos Audio Books.

To my surprise, I find there is already an Amazon page for it, although it won't be available to buy until 30th April 2015. It says this:

"... the story of a group of refugees from the ruined city of Troy, whose attempts to reach a promised land in the West are continually frustrated by the hostile goddess Juno.

"Finally reaching Italy, their leader Aeneas is forced to fight a bitter war against the natives, to establish the foundations from which Rome is destined to rise.

"This magnificent poem, in the modern translation by Cecil Day Lewis, is superbly read by David Collins."

Hmm.   I couldn't possibly comment.

Thanks once again to producer Alec Reid, and engineer Ken Barton
at Phase Shift Audio.

 

Miss Heyer for one's carriage

The Spanish Bride

November 2014

My recording of Georgette Heyer's "The Spanish Bride" for Naxos has now been released on Amazon. I noted this comment in particular:

"... indeed, no expense has been spared in its production. It has not been abridged, requiring the publisher to fashion it into a boxed set of no less than twelve 'Compact Disc' volumes.

"Thus rendered, it represents an excellent entertainment for one's carriage. One finds it greatly eases the tedium of protracted family excursions to Hampstead, and other locations equally rustic."

 

'Twas a Dark and Stormy Night...

The Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness

October 2014

I've had a very pleasant visit to Cumbria, co-starring in A Dark and Stormy Night at The Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness on Windermere.

The Old Laundry is in the round.
It's intimate, and a perfect place to tell ghost stories!

I was delighted to read this review, from the Cumbria Live web site:

"... Just two performers held the audience spell-bound for an evening of story-telling. The only props their costumes, some sound effects and a chair (even the smoking of pipes had to be imagined), the strength of the performances from David Collins and Ric Jerrom was such that the events and settings of the stories could clearly be seen.

"To add a lighter touch to the proceedings, each half started with a humorous ghost story: H G Wells’ The Inexperienced Ghost and Jerome K Jerome’s The Ghost of the Blue Chamber. But the more enthralling were in fact Dickens’ chilling tale The Signalman and M R James’ Whistle, and I’ll Come to You.

"The dank and chill of the railway cutting and the tunnel in Dickens’ tale were there before us, the red danger light haunting the stage throughout the story: and Whistle and I’ll Come to You built to a climax which had the audience on the edges of its seats, terrified of what might be about to happen.

"The skill of the writers and of the performers’ delivery is that you leave the theatre musing. Did the characters really see ghosts or was there some material, unspiritual explanation? But that, of course, is what you will never know..."

Sarah J L Briggs

 

The Conquering Hero

The Conquering Hero

October 2014

Shakespeare At The Tobacco Factory marked both the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War and Bristol Festival of Ideas, with a script-in-hand production of Allan Monkhouse's The Conquering Hero.

Although the play was first performed in 1923, it may well have been written during the war.

Andrew Hilton, the production's director, summarises it thus:

"At the outbreak of war a writer, son to a military family, believes his role is to go on writing; he loathes the war and the jingoism surrounding it and is determined that civilisation should not be put on hold while vast armies slug it out in France and Flanders.

"But family pressure forces him to the front. His body survives - and he is welcomed home as ‘the conquering hero’ - but his experience has been very, very different."

We had an appropriate if unusual setting, the Reception Room in the Wills Memorial Building of Bristol University.

In rehearsal, with Julia Hills

The Wills Building's was begun in 1915, work being suspended at the outbreak of hostilities. It was completed only in 1925. One wonders about all those young men who left their courses to fight, never returning to see the new building finished.

With director, Andrew Hilton, at the read through

Despite the sombre theme, for me this was an opportunity to enjoy the company of old friends, in a moving production.

In costume as Sir John Romer

I am very grateful to Craig Fuller for permission to use his production photographs here. There are more on the SATTF web site, too.

 

Fever Tales by Lavinia Greenlaw

Anopheles Gambiae mosquito
Anopheles Gambiae, the Malaria mosquito

March 30th 2014

In the week beginning 24th March 2014, these were five, 15-minute dramas on BBC Radio Four, about the extraordinary story of malaria, and the fight down the ages to understand and control it.

It read like a sci-fi/horror film, but it was REAL! From China to the Panama canal, in the research laboratories of Europe and the Far East, throughout the world in fact, the elusive parasite has been hunted, analysed and from time to time pinned down by heroic scientists and medics, only to evolve and escape yet again to plague the human race.

In vivid episodes, narrated by Siobhan Redmond, performed by Russell Boulter, Richard Bremmer, Jasmine Hyde, John Mackay and David Collins (me), and directed by Tim Dee, we shared the bafflement and determination, the highs and lows of the still continuing war against the ingenious plague of malaria.

Nature, it seems, never gives in.

Footnote: sadly, although you can look up the series on the BBC Web site, it's not presently available on iPlayer.