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Mr. Alex Taylor "alexhengtien" (UK)
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The Absolutist
The Absolutist
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars War Story with a Difference, 5 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: The Absolutist (Kindle Edition)
John Boyne is an amazing writer and storyteller. I love his books - I think this is the fourth one I've read. His sense of period is meticulously crafted and he has the knack of being able to take you to the heart of the emotional experience of the central character. He writes with a blazing honesty that provides real insights to human experience and is able to illuminate our understanding. He is a very fine writer with his own, unique 'voice'.


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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Scholarly Edition of Shakespeare's Play, 15 Jun. 2015
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The Arden editions of Shakespeare are definitely my favourites - they're beautifully produced and the introductions and notes are invaluable. Sometimes there is not a great deal of text on a page which can make them a little unwieldy if rehearsing with them, but I still find the Arden preferable to any other edition. This is also a companion volume to the First Quarto and First Folio edition which I believe is now out of print. I have both volumes and together they give you a definitive view of Shakespeare's play, in all its incarnations.


The Petticoat Men
The Petticoat Men
Price: £3.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Piece of Historical Fiction, 16 April 2015
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This review is from: The Petticoat Men (Kindle Edition)
I have long been a fan of Barbara Ewing since I first read The Mesmerist some years ago. Her latest novel is astonishingly good. One of her strengths is that she is able to take you to the heart of another time and place and her central characters are 'ordinary' working people so you experience the world she takes you to from a very different perspective than the view one is usually given - we normally see the Victorian era from a rather more privileged class and background, although the prince of Wales, his mistress and Queen Victoria do feature here, but they are not the central characters. This historical novel is carefully researched and based on real events and it explores how a relatively minor court case, focused on two cross-dressing men, radiates into wider society and affects the lives of individuals from a cross section of the Victorian world - people who are only peripherally involved. Lives are changed irreparably and yet the central characters find ways to survive and move forward.

I found this a fascinating novel and I was touched and engaged by the plight of the central characters. Barbara Ewing's writing is so human - she tells her story in the first person, but the narrator changes, sometimes chapter by chapter, so that you see the main events from a range of different social and human perspectives. A really stimulating and satisfying read.


The Red Room
The Red Room
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Crafted Psychological Thriller, 28 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Red Room (Kindle Edition)
I have enjoyed all of the Nicci French novels I have read - around 10 of them. I discovered The Red Room only recently and have to say that it is one of the best thrillers the Nicci French duo has written. The writing style, as always, draws the reader in, and the story is carefully plotted so that you constantly want to turn the page. A great read.


Nijinsky [Blu-ray] [1980] [US Import]
Nijinsky [Blu-ray] [1980] [US Import]

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Passion of the Dance, 22 Sept. 2014
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I saw this film on its first release and remembered being disappointed by it. It is, in fact, the only major movie ever made about the life of Nijinsky and, whilst there are sections of the film that are slow, it is overall a beautifully filmed biopic about Nijinsky's life with the Ballets Russes and it evokes, with sensitivity and humour, the atmosphere and environment of company life. The impact of Nijinsky's original performances is cleverly captured - the filming of Spectre of the Rose is wonderfully romantic and impressionsitic and manages to capture the sense of Nijinsky's prodigious leaps, and the rehearsals for and opening performance of The Rite of Spring brilliantly suggest the beginning of the breakdown of Nijinsky's tenuous grasp on reality as well as the creative trauma that sometimes goes hand in hand with genius.

The film is beautifully shot, perhaps in a slightly self-conscious way - scenes are 'composed' in a way that some may find old fashioned - but this element of composition cleverly reinforces the theatricality of the world Nijinsky is forced to inhabit. In this high definitition bly-ray the film is visually stunning.

It is also significant for a number of other reasons as it showcases an array of consummnate performances from its actors. This is Jeremy Irons first film and he gives a perfectly judged performance as the principal choreographer of the Ballets Russes whose ego is fragile and whose nose is put out of joint by Daighilev's favourite. There's an excellent central performance from Alan Bates as Diaghilev. He's perfectly cast and absolutely the right age for the role. Sadly, not so many of his performances are availbale on DVD or Blu Ray, so if you are a fan, his performance in Nijinsky is quite wonderful. George de la Pena does not really look like Nijinsky and it is, perhaps, surprising that more of an effort was not made to get closer to a physical resemblance - for instance, the hair could have been styled to capture the short, stark look in many of the photographs of Nijinsky dancing that have been archived - however, he does capture the spirit of Nijinsky both in his acting and in his dancing, and the relationships with both Diaghilev and Romola are explored with sensitivity and depth. Lesley Browne, who plays Romola, conveys her journey from the star struck, naive fan to the hardened and practical wife well and, of the three central roles, Romola is, perhaps, the least developed on the page. However, she conveys the early idealism and the later pain and anguish of the character convincingly.

The subject of Nijinsky's sexuality and of his relationships with Diaghilev and Romola is explored. The film is careful not to lay the blame for Nijinsky's breakdown and dissent into madness with either of his partners - it is rather the result of each person having to make the choices they make, and of circumstance. At the time of its first release, I wanted these relationships to be explored more explicitly and with greater passion, but seeing the film now more than thirty years down the line, the passion is there and the exploration of the emotional and physical asepcts of the relationships is explored with subtlety and taste. As a major Hollywood movie of its time, it probably goes further than most in exploring the themes of gender and sexual mores.

Overall, this is a tasteful and ambitious film that is well worth adding to your collection if you are a fan of Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes, or if you are an Alan Bates fan.


The Country Wife and Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics)
The Country Wife and Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics)
by William Wycherley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Colledction of Restoration Plays, 19 Jun. 2014
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I find this a really useful resource. There are not a huge number of collections of Restoration plays out there (even fewer collections of Victorian and Edwardian plays, however) and this collection contains some lesser known pieces that are not available elsewhere. I bought this for Love in a Wood.


Webster: The Tragedies: The Tragedies (Analysing Texts)
Webster: The Tragedies: The Tragedies (Analysing Texts)
Price: £16.14

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Analyses of Webster's Two Great Plays, 19 Jun. 2014
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I found this book really useful - I'm currently directing a production of The Duchess of Malfi. I must admit, I didn't find much in it that was new, but it is very well organised, and Webster's themes are very fully explored. There are detailed scene analyses throughout - very thorough and often insightful. I did found the introduction about Webster's verse useful but flawed. It contains some very good general points, but I found the analysis of rhtyhm in individual lines sometimes questionable. I also think it is confusing to talk about ten beat lines: there are ten syllables in a regular iambic lines but only five beats.


Thursday's Child: A Frieda Klein Novel (4) (Frieda Klein Series)
Thursday's Child: A Frieda Klein Novel (4) (Frieda Klein Series)
Price: £3.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Psychological Thriller, 19 Jun. 2014
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I'm not sure if collaboration is the best way to go when writing a novel - I sometimes found the style of this mystery somewhat meandering - but it's engagingly written and I like the personal, psychological perspective that is the essential premsie of the book. I haven't read a Nicci French novel for some years, but this has piqued my appetite for him/her and I'll certainly seek out further books by Nicci French after this one.


English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles
English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles
by (Detective fiction author) Arthur Hughes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Practical Resource for Accent Coaches, 29 July 2013
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I have earlier versions of this useful handbook but this is by far the best version. It is much expanded and the gaps that existed in the earlier versions have now been filled. the only downside for me is that the accompnaying accent/dialect resources are now accessible online and I would have preferred a CD to be included with the book, as with previous editions. However, I am sure that for many practitioners, the onlione resources are preferable.


Forbidden Broadway Alive & Kicking
Forbidden Broadway Alive & Kicking
Price: £12.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Camp Broadway, 11 Jun. 2013
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Absolutely brilliant! Filled with Broadway spoofs of productions and events from a couple of years ago. In the words of Bette Midler, 'Mud WILL be flung tonight, and into the faces of some of your favourites!' Highlights for me from this recording are PORGY AND MESS - a production I managed to see in the week it opened on Braodway in fact, and loved, but this pastiche nonetheless hits home with a deadly accuracy - and the Mandy and Patti, and Bernadette Peters spoofs. The latter is incredibly clever and brilliantly executed and also contains a wonderful impersonation of Stephen Sondheim.


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