Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fire in the Embers

Went with friends to see Embers on Tuesday, to celebrate Eva's birthday. I was a little worried - the early reviews were mixed, emphasising the near-monologue second half as a challenge that Jeremy Irons either surmounted or failed, depending on the reviewer.

The other challenge of the play to an early 21st century English-speaking audience is that it Sandor Marai's story is, well, so un-English. It takes friendship, love and the betrayal of both seriously. Irony is used to intensify, rather than to diminish, involvement. And back we come to the fact that the second half is pretty well a monologue. Where the play succeeds so well is that it convinces us entirely that this intensity is not ridiculous but real, so much so in fact that someone behind me called on her creator at least a couple of times as the story unfolded.

Are we right to accept such high-flown drama? Isn't this the the slippery slope to melodrama and Victorian hypocracy? Not, I think, in case of Sandor Marai. Take a look at his US journal. I laughed at how the first line of the programme's entry on him started with the date he shot himself, and joked that was how all good Hungarian biographies started, but just read the journal. The intensity is all there - it is natural, it is moving and it is entirely real. I am not at all embarrassed to be moved by the play or the journal.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Calling out around the world

A nice surprise to be mentioned by Gail Ilagan in the Phillipines last week - especially from someone who not only has such sound views on Eowyn and Aragorn, but uses passion and reason to write truthfully and movingly.

I was gently lobbying her to get a blog so it would be easier for lazy folk like me to keep up with her pieces - like this, which as a new father, I especially responded to.

Her response - in effect, that the further into the rootless internet she moves from her on-line regional newspaper column readers, the more communication with readers tends to be polluted by ignorance, misconception or prejudice - is hard to argue with.

But I like to think that anyone (anyone - is there anybody out there?) reading my blog would probably be an exception to that rule. So I hope she'll forgive me tugging her into the blogosphere with this entry - after all, she proves what we all hope, that personal reflection can be of universal interest.