Thursday, 6 May 2010

I loved Sebastian Barry's novel A Long, Long Way, about the Great War. So I was keen to catch his new play Andersen's English based on a visit made by Hans Andersen to Charles Dickens' house at Gad's Hill in 1857.
It's all there, as if Sebastian Barry were checking off all that he'd gleaned from biographies. Dickens' cruelty to his wife: tick. Tension between Mrs D and her sister: tick. Dickens' heavy-handed paternity: tick. There's not a footnote unturned. Dickens' home for fallen women: tick. That's not to say that cobbling all this together makes a good play.
Andersen is the fly-on-the-wall whose poor command of English means that he fails to pick up on the friction. But why cast a black actor as Andersen? And then play him as a noble savage?
It was okay. I dozed during the first half. It was better than watching wall-to wall election coverage on television.
Sometimes that's all you can say ... it was okay.

No comments: