Not since I played the Naxos book-on-tape "A History of Opera" have I so much enjoyed a recorded non-fiction treat like David Timson's <The History of Theatre> (NA 419914), narrated by the venerable Derek Jacobi on four audio tapes. \
The title is really misleading, since the text covers only Western theatre and even that not comprehensively, given the little over 5 hours of playing time. The author himself admits this in the notes provided with the tapes and can be forgiven. What there is here would make an excellent review for a theatre major studying for exams and an even better introduction to one not all that familiar with the story of our theatre as it progressed from the rites dedicated to Dionysus to what it is today. Of course, the important playwrights are touched upon (Shakespeare gets an all too brief treatment) and the English ones get what is perhaps a somewhat disproportionate amount of attention. But as English speakers, we will not carp at that.
An especially good feature of this set is the use of professional actors--Carole Boyd, John McAndrew, Teresa Gallagher and Caroline Faber--to give some short excerpts from major works. The booklet gives a brief "Glossary of technical terms not explained in the text," a need created perhaps by the author's being an actor.
Once again, you will enjoy hearing this set even if you have no exams coming up; and it will give you a very nice idea of where our present theatre has come from, if not where it is going.