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Putting It On: The West End Theatre of Michael Codron Hardcover – 30 Sep 2010
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Praise for "Putting It On"
"More than 50 years ago, Codron began a career as a producer that would take him to almost every major theater and involve most major actors of the London stage. Thankfully, his book, written with Strachan ("Secret Dreams: A Biography of Michael Redgrave"), does not read as a who's who but is rather an in-depth look at what it takes to bring printed words to life on a stage. Perhaps most fascinating to many readers will be Codron's work with playwrights Tom Stoppard ("The Real Thing"), Simon Gray ("Otherwise Engaged; Butley"), and Michael Frayn ("Noises Off"; "Copenhagen"). Stories of such famed actors as Diana Rigg, Alec Guinness, Maggie Smith, and Peter O'Toole add to the enjoyment. The book is well indexed and includes minimally effective black-and- white photos. A full listing of Codron's productions by year--with the play's name, where it opened, and playwright--add much value. This book will be enjoyed by attendees and lovers of the theater. Th -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
About the Author
Alan Strachan is a noted theatre director and has written extensively on theatre and acting for newspapers and magazines. He is the author of the acclaimed 'Secret Dreams: A Biography of Michael Redgrave'. Michael Codron is undoubtedly the leading producer of postwar British theatre. Still active after an astonishing half-century in the industry - he is 80 this year - every major British dramatist of the period has had a production under the Codron banner: Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn, Simon Gray, David Hare, Joe Orton, John Mortimer, Harold Pinter and Patrick Marber, to name just a few.
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My own formative years of West End theatregoing certainly coincided with Codron's heyday, and a major attraction of this book is recognising productions one has seen, then learning a little more about how they came to be produced. Thanks to an extensive - and almost complete - archive, Strachan is able to trace the career of an extraordinary impresario through good times and harder ones in the Capital.
The way the author chooses to structure the task is both the book's greatest asset, and chief weakness. Once the Codron schooldays have been dispensed with, he adopts a decidedly `thematic' approach - taking either an association with a single playwright or genre (`revue' is the most interesting, and the form I for one miss most in London today) as the subject of a chapter.
This saves the whole from becoming just another tiresome chronology, and gives the author flexibility in tracing the development of an association in a single section of the book rather than in small paragraphs across a hundred pages.
Anything outside this structure does have to be `worked in' a little less smoothly than a reader might like, though it can be a relief to turn away from a minute examination of one author for a moment, to interpolate a little of another's success for contrast and colour.
The main drawback, however, is that the reader suddenly finds himself plunged back to failure in 1956 directly after celebrating a hit 2005 production at the close of the previous chapter. It makes for a slightly disconcerting change in pace at times, though compared to the alternative it is rather a sound editorial decision.
It could also be mentioned that one minor editorial error gets the dates wrong for a whole sequence of Ayckbourn / Vaudeville Theatre productions and Codron's associated ownership of the venue but, as a writer myself, I know that such things are unavoidable and it might be seen as a simple case of Ayckbourn `confusions' enlivening the text a little.
This book succeeds both as a reference source for those fascinated by West End production history, and as an `aide memoire' to the keen theatregoer. Certainly one that both will wish to have on their shelves; either to dip into in order to refresh a memory or simply pass a pleasurable few moments.