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Not being head of my own theatre company or anything like that, I bought this trio of plays purely to read for my own pleasure. Well, obviously I also had one eye on looking extremely intelligent and enormously interesting while in its company - especially where ladies are concerned.

Truth be told, I only actually wanted this for the second work, 'The Dock Brief', which is a beautifully written piece of comedy with some very touching moments. This play originally starred Michael Hordern and Maurice Denham in the West End, followed by Richard Attenborough and Peter Sellers on film. It's very short (even with stage directions it comes in at less than forty pages, in two acts) and has only two characters - an old barrister and a rather endearing murderer. A Dock Brief, it is explained in the play, is plucked at random from the courtroom by the defendant himself. The implication being of course, that it is the barrister who is the luckier of the two, since he has the opportunity to earn a few desperately needed bob. Being a Dock Brief seems to be the equivalent of being one of of the ones left over at school when all the teams were picked. And, frustratingly for him, the defendant he has waited so long for seems to be as guilty as sin and also not particularly bothered about trying to argue that fact. The interaction between the two characters is really wonderful and is well worth getting this book for.

The play that I will hopefully live out the rest of my life and never feel the urge to read again is, I'm afraid, 'What Shall We Tell Caroline?'. Messrs Hordern and Denham starred in that one too it seems, although even that fact couldn't drum up any interest from me in any of the characters. I think it might be set in a school and there is a character called Arthur who is immensely rude to his wife throughout and could have done with a punch on the nose. Beyond that, I found the play dull. No, it wasn't even dull - it wasn't even that good. After only a few pages I couldn't even remember who Caroline was, let alone waste any time worrying about whether we should tell her whatever else it was I really couldn't remember.

That brings us to 'A Voyage Round My Father', which looks at John Mortimer's relationship with his blind barrister father over a number of years. Slightly self-indulgent it may be, but there is no denying the fact that their relationship is both fascinating and poignant. Before Laurence Olivier made the part his own, it was actually Alec Guinness who played the Father originally on stage, ably assisted by the late, great Jeremy Brett. Reading the play and imagining those two saying the lines adds an incredible depth to an already fascinating work. The stage directions are extensive and invaluable and the play manages to combine some really quite heartbreaking moments with some very funny comedy.

I have already read this a number of times (well, two of the plays anyway - Caroline and I are completely finished: it's over). The wit and erudition which would eventually give us Horace Rumpole is well in evidence here. With, in my opinion, that one instantly forgettable exception.
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on 20 October 2013
The Author takes us on a nastalgic journey from his chilhood upwards. His barrister father is struck blind, but the family never speak about it. We follow "The Boy", as he is always referred to, through his boarding school days, marriage and finally following in his fathers footsteps in the law courts. Its a heart warming journey showing the love of a son for his father!
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on 22 June 2009
"Voyage around my father" is a stage play-it includes stage directions.I enjoyed trying to visualise the settings and various characters.I expected to learn more of John Mortimer,s experience of living with his blind father who was an eminent barrister.Howevever this is written in Mortimer's casual but witty style--it is a light hearted piece with nuggets of wisdom and a lot of charm.
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on 10 December 2013
Purchased with the thought that it might be a candidate for submission to our Play Selection Committee for presentation as part of the 2015 programme. Whilst literate and witty, it does not have the "WOW" factor which would attract audiences to our Little community not for profit theatre.The father is so overblown, and I do not remember Alec Guiness at the Haymarket production 1n 1971[?] being so impossible.May have been coloured by seeing the DVD with Olivier, who was definitely OTT.
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on 16 May 2013
It's more of a retrospective look at the author's relationship with his father - not even that really. If you're looking for an interesting play to do, look elsewhere.
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