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The virtues of Martin Jarvis's breezy, insightful and well-crafted autobiography have been noticed here and elsewhere. I can report that the pleasure to be derived from it is increased ten fold by listening to Martin Jarvis reading it. The voice is beautifully modulated, and apparently undamaged by forty years of theatre, TV, film and radio work. Not only is the text beautifully read, but there are also many demonstrations of Martin's Jarvis's uncanny ability to mimic and adopt other voices. You'll not only hear what Sir John Gielguid, Sir Alan Ayckbourn and Harold Pinter say, you actually believe they are there, speaking to you. Even the great radio actress Marjorie Westbury, to whom Martin Jarvis pays a high tribute, is somehow heard again in Jarvis's reading. There is also a Polish film director, and a Hollywood agent whose impersonations you will never forget.
Whether you're a theatre enthusiast, an admirer of Martin Jarvis's work, a budding actor, or just someone who likes to be amused and entertained, you'll find this audio book set to be a great investment.
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on 28 October 1999
I had no idea, when I settled down to read Martin Jarvis's autobiography, that I would literally be unable to move for six hours. I just had to read it right through. It begins with a compelling account of his schoolboy acting attempts in the nineteen fifties (including a hilarious sequence when he was cast as an off-stage yodeller). I found myself laughing out loud on so many occasions -and no one else was in the room - which I should think must be a compliment to his comic writing. I loved his stories of success and failure when he acted with the National YouthTheatre and Rada, and his first appearance as Prince Hilio in Dr Who is a riot. But this book is definitely more than just a series of (very funny) stories. Beneath the comic humour, it seems to me that Jarvis is addressing, quite seriously, the whole question - fascinating to the public - of what it's really like to be an actor. The way he describes his experiences at the Royal NationalTheatre and in the West End made me feel I was actually on stage with him and Judi Dench, or in the rehearsal rooms with Sir Peter Hall and Harold Pinter. Wonderful pen-portraits of Pinter and Hall as well as a brilliantly observed section where he describes his first meeting with Sir Alan Ayckbourn. He interesting about horror actor Christopher Lee. AndI loved his film screen-test experiences with the Polish director in Rome. I think Jarvis writes with real insight into the way actors, writers and directors go about their work. I felt I learnt a lot about different acting techniques. I found I was moved by the self-deprecating way he relates the near-tragic loss of his voice when he was starring in The Forsyte Saga and how he recovered his health and went on to record all those Just William tapes and programmes. The last chapters are riveting as the author takes us to Mexico where he was filming in Titanic. I thought the atmosphere where all the actors were endlessly waiting, for weeks on end, to film their next scene was amazingly well caught. It reminded me of Waiting For Godot. I've watched Martin Jarvis ever since I saw him in the sit-com Rings On Their Fingers and have heard him on many audio tapes. My favourite theatre performance of his was the sharp (almost mad) doctor in The Doctor's Dilemma at the Almeida Theatre last year. I thoroughly recommend Acting Strangely as a comic (and sensitive) read by this highly intelligent actor. But beware, take breaks, or you'll be trapped like I was, unable to put it down.
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on 24 September 2000
This is a fabulous book which tells like it really is. I should know since I am a young actor only a year into my chosen career and I'm already finding out.I would recommend anyone considering going to drama school to read 'Acting Strangely'. It won't put them off but it will remind them that it's not going to be an easy road to success. Martin Jarvis' tales of his time at RADA with Mike Leigh, Anthony Hopkins and Ian McShane make for great comedy reading as well as teaching about what it's like to be a drama student. I just hope I can retain the same kind of sense of humour as I (hopefully) continue to gain experience in the theatre,television and movies. There are so many really funny moments in the book. I have some ambitions to try Hollywood some day soon and I've not been put off by the brilliant section entitled "This is Hollywood - You must learn to love 'no'". Read, learn and enjoy!
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on 31 March 2016
Having listened to hundreds of audiobooks read by dozens of readers of widely varying abilities I found Martin Jarvis a revelation. Superb voice, the controlled delivery of a quality stage actor, mastery of accents... Magnificent.
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on 20 October 2012
I love Martin Jarvis and can't get enough of his voice on radio, CD or TV but this was not as hilariously funny as I had been led to believe and I read it just to finish it. My mother is enjoying it, though!
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on 24 September 2000
I would say this paperback (bigger by ten thousand words than the hardback) is a must for anyone who relishes great tales of the theatre and movie industry. Martin Jarvis has just about done it all and his insight into the psychology of his many fellow actors, writers and directors is, at times, breathtaking in its perception.The most observant (and generous) book on the industry I've read. Genuinely funny too.
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on 5 October 1999
I have just finished this hilarious book. I found myself laughing out loud. I was on a plane and my intrigued seat neighbour started to read over my shoulder. She began chuckling too. Brilliant comic writing from this popular British actor. I loved his accounts of working at the National with Dame Judi Dench and his adventures aboard James Cameron's Titanic. Rehearsing with Sir Peter Hall and John Gielgud. Filming with Robert Duvall and eccentric Italians. Breakfast with Alan Ayckbourn and lunch with Harold Pinter. Real insights into the mysterious craft of radio acting from Jarvis, the acknowledged King of Spoken Word. This is an engrossing, genuinely funny book,that really tells you what it's like to be an actor working in every area of his profession.
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on 5 October 1999
Martin Jarvis is a major new comic writer. Anyone interested in the theatre, television and film will love what he has to say about people and places: Harold Pinter, John Gielgud, Peter Hall and others. The scenes in California alone are worth buying the book for. A new insight into the film, TITANIC.
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on 5 October 2013
Fairly amusing, reasonably interesting read, but not the laugh a minute volume promised in the blurb. Perhaps it's just me?
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on 11 November 2014
An interesting addition to my collection of his "talking books". A talented man.
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