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Next Season

Who says upselling doesn't work? Not only did I pick up Philip Quast's CD when I saw Democracy but also Michael Blakemore's 1968 novel Next Season. And I'm glad I did.

Unsurprisingly I enjoy fictional works that are about the theatre - Alan Brennert's fantasy novel Time and Chance for instance or Kenneth Branagh's film A Midwinter's Tale (also known as In the Bleak Midwinter). Next Season is no exception. Michael Blakemore, who started out as an actor before becoming an acclaimed director, wrote this book based on his experiences in the British theatre scene of the 1950s.

Sam Beresford is an actor who is engaged by a well-respected regional theatre company in season of minor parts. During his time in the fictional town of Braddington Spa he is inspired by a famous elder statesman of the stage, frustrated by hacks with ferocious gifts for publicity and concept though not talent, darts artfully between two women (one a local shop assistant, the other a fellow actor of distinguished theatrical lineage) and, as all actors do, dreams of getting his chance at playing the big roles.

Blakemore has a gift for descriptions that are inventive but not pretentious and of dramatising scenes that ring true but never cliched. Not a lot happens for most of the book, but the characters, setting and interactions are so finely evoked that when the plot does kick into gear in the last fifty pages that the story actually threatens to descend into melodrama. It never does though and the end is moving and satisfying, though spoiled somewhat by Simon Callow's overly detailed introduction.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 3, 2005 10:55 AM.

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