Saturday, 22 December 2012


An enthralling evening at the Almeida tonight to see The Dark Earth and the Light Sky, a new play about the poet Edward Thomas - and now there's two more books on my list for 2013, his wife Helen's memoir (too frank by far, apparently, for his friend Robert Frost who never forgave Helen for writing it) and also the the recent biography by Matthew Hollis, Now All Roads Lead to France.

Edward Thomas was encouraged to write poetry by Frost and wrote 144 poems in a creative outpouring from 1914 until he was killed at Arras in 1917. A shell passed so close that the blast of air stopped his heart and he died without a mark on his body.

He was a prickly, difficult, depressive character with a deep love of England's countryside, a physical coward who enlisted when he didn't have to, his decision influenced - or so the play has it - by his friend's poem The Road Not Taken. For Thomas, the two roads that diverged were the opportunity of going to America to write and work on Frost's farm ... and the road to France.

The play delves into his unhappy marriage to Helen and his relationship with spinsterish Eleanor Farjeon who loves him but has never kissed a man.

I was engrossed from the moment Pip Carter, who plays Thomas, walked onto the stage - and astonished later to realise how physically he resembles the poet.

A wonderful evening and the theatre was packed. (Thought I saw Julian Barnes there but am too short-sighted to be a reliable spotter of literary celebrities in the wild.)

Incidentally, my ticket in the stalls (a perfectly tolerable restricted view) was £8, considerably less than the local cinema.

7 comments:

Darlene said...

Simon, being the wonderful person that he is, gave me a copy of As It Was by Helen Thomas. It was terrific! One of those books you start off reading just a line or two of and then you can't stop. I hope you can find a copy, Mary!

Noelle the dreamer said...

Sounds good enough to put on my 'list' Mary! Thanks for sharing.
A Merry Christmas to you and yours and a wonderful New Year,

mary said...

I'm on the look-out now, Darlene. And a friend has offered me a loan of the new biography.

If Darlene says it's good, then that's fine by me, Noelle!
Merry Christmas, too, and thank you for reading and commenting this year. It's always appreciated.

Vintage Reading said...

Adlestrop is one of my favourite poems and I was delighted that it is on my daughter's A-level reading list this year. I would very much like to see the play.

mary said...

It's on for another couple of weeks, Nicola. I'm sure you'd enjoy it, if it's not too far for you to come.

mirandasnotebook said...

Rachel and I went to see this Mary just because of your fantastic review. We very much enjoyed it so thank you so much!

mary said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Miranda.