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An Easy Lay

James Davidson: Greek tragedy, 30 September 1999

Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy 
edited by Simon Goldhill and Robin Osborne.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £45, June 1997, 0 521 64247 7
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The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy 
edited by P.E. Easterling.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £14.95, October 1997, 0 521 42351 1
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Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning 
by David Wiles.
Cambridge, 130 pp., £13.95, August 1999, 0 521 66615 5
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... ago, demands an imaginative effort much greater than would be required if you had plumped for a Pinter or an Ibsen or a David Hare. When we hear, for instance, that Aeschylus’ rival Phrynichus was particularly noted for his choreographies, or learn from Peter Wilson in Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy that the shawm (aulos) which always ...
... debut in 1964, when he was only 23 and his brilliant book The Speakers attracted the admiration of Harold Pinter, William Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, V.S. Pritchett and more, he has gradually achieved the status of super-wizard in a community of nomads, pilgrims and seekers after truth. For two years he successfully ran the Ruff, Tuff, Cream Puff Estate ...

Diary

Robert Irwin: The Best Thing since Sex, 2 December 1993

... only a short literature. Unlike cricket, it does not command literary partisans of the calibre of Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. Neither can it match swimming’s distinguished roll-call of writer-enthusiasts: Horace, Sidney, Marlowe, Byron, Arnold, Brooke, Gide, Scott Fitzgerald and, most recently, Charles Sprawson. It is true, of course, that Vladimir ...

It wasn’t the Oval

Blake Morrison: Michael Frayn, 7 October 2010

My Father’s Fortune: A Life 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 255 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 571 27058 3
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... English and Irish ones anyway? Samuel Beckett represented his university against Northants. Harold Pinter, who wrote wistfully of seeing Len Hutton in his prime, captained a team called the Gaieties XI. Simon Gray, David Hare and Ronald Harwood are or were known to be keen on the game, too. And Tom Stoppard, another follower, has a striking ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... from Haydn, a speech by Richard Wollheim, and no fewer than 13 of Spender’s own poems, read by Harold Pinter, Ted Hughes, James Fenton, Jill Balcon and Barry Humphries. (At Larkin’s, there were three.) Spender’s order of service, despite his obvious absence, seems to acknowledge both his customary admiration for the truly great and his anxiety ...

Women of Quality

E.S. Turner, 9 October 1986

The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... for a stimulating holiday in the sun: ‘It was an exhilarating experience to listen to the Pinters’ and Billingtons’ play-reading sessions, interlaced with passionate talk about Amnesty and Star Wars under the stars.’ She is grateful, too, for the custom of ‘manuscript bartering’ prevalent in the family, on the basis of ‘I’ll read yours ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... In 1956 in London he played – to much critical acclaim from critics such as Kenneth Tynan and Harold Hobson – the part of Seamus Shields in The Shadow of a Gunman. When he was asked to play the part of the railway porter in Beckett’s radio play All That Fall in 1956 he found himself ‘struck tremendously by the writing. It seemed to me profound and ...

Sour Notes

D.A.N. Jones, 17 November 1983

Peter Hall’s Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle 
edited by John Goodwin.
Hamish Hamilton, 507 pp., £12.95, November 1983, 0 241 11047 5
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... shows up very well, offering Hall gnomic and godly advice, calculating his effects. So does Harold Pinter – himself an actor as well as a writer. Sir Peter may struggle too hard to be serious: he may choose silly plays about serious subjects, and he may assume too readily that all characters in serious plays should be ‘discussing moral dilemmas ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

Weather 
by John Farrand.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 239 pp., $40, June 1990, 1 55670 134 9
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Weather Watch 
by Dick File.
Fourth Estate, 299 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 1 872180 12 4
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Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment 
edited by J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £40, September 1990, 9780521403603
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Crop Circles: The Latest Evidence 
by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews.
Bloomsbury, 80 pp., £5.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0843 7
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The Stumbling Block, Its Index 
by B. Catling.
Book Works, £22, October 1990, 9781870699051
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... Hackney aliens. A tasty ruck in Ridley Road market. The kind of affair witnessed by the youthful Harold Pinter. The chapel was a popular source of neighbourhood charity, handing out free shirts (black only), sturdy boots, to anyone who would join the movement. Now ownership rights are a dubious privilege. A group of Sikh developers are finding their ...

Highlight of Stay So Far

Stefan Collini: Beckett’s Letters, 1 December 2016

The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. IV: 1966-89 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 838 pp., £29.99, September 2016, 978 0 521 86796 2
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... is only as a memory that he finds Ireland bearable.) Even when writing to his fellow cricket-lover Harold Pinter and dreaming of going to the Oval with him one day, he remembers something he didn’t actually get to see: the ground is ‘where I once missed Frank Woolley just out when I arrived having made something like 70 in half an hour’. Others send ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... Lets no one off the grave. Death is no different whined at than withstood. The poem was read by Harold Pinter at a memorial meeting at Riverside Studios in the following March and I wrote it up in my diary: 3 March 1986 A commemorative programme for Larkin at Riverside Studios, arranged by Blake Morrison. Arrive late as there is heavy rain and the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... of acting with the person in question. ‘A sweetie? Are we talking about the same person?’ ‘Harold Pinter? Can you be serious?’ ‘She’s a bit …’ with a tipping of the elbow to indicate drink taken. I’ve often thought of putting such a session in a play, but unless the names of real actors are used it wouldn’t work.24 January. Watch a ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... on stage plays, but was commissioning work for radio from avant-garde figures like Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Giles Cooper. Equally ominous, News and Current Affairs in both Sound and Television built dynamic new empires, which attracted formidable young talents, took broadcasting boldly into politics, and used Features techniques when it suited ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... on the very day itself – food shortages were worsening – and records an exchange ‘worthy of Harold Pinter’ which was overheard by a Mass Observer in a tobacconist’s shop. It is a virtuoso display of British Moaning, stirred by the protracted and confusing way in which Victory had been proclaimed. A middle-aped woman says: ‘They played us a ...

Swanker

Ronald Bryden, 10 December 1987

The Life of Kenneth Tynan 
by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £16.95, September 1987, 9780297790822
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... books. Hence the cut-throat games of vocabulary-flashing and cultural reference pinned down by Harold Pinter and Joe Orton as Britain’s post-war national sport. Tynan, a bookish, unathletic boy, made this kind of competition his own. A compulsive player of word-games, he spattered his early writing with challenges to duels of literacy. A flip ...

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