Monday, September 05, 2005

Ancestral Voices

The Times today carries a report about a one-man play based on the diaries of James Lees-Milne, who has been dead these eight years or so.

James Lees-Milne (1908-1997) was a curious English character and he has his own official web site. He knew a number of the leading writers of his day, particularly Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West (a married couple). James had what the web site describes as a homosexual relationship with Harold, while James's wife Alvilde had a lesbian relationship with Vita. And if that isn’t English enough for you, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, the thing that warrants today’s mention in the Times is that there are shortly to be further performances of the one-man play, Ancestral Voices, which is based on Lees-Milne’s diaries. There have been over a hundred performances so far, several of them as fund-raising ventures for charity.

This play is something of a tour de force for the actor Moray Watson. I saw it sometime last year and recommend it if you are within reach of a performance.

Lees-Milne himself published his diaries, or at any rate parts of them. These attracted rather more praise than his fiction. I have a copy of Another Self, which the author described as an autobiographical novel. It was largely a memoir of his real life, with some imaginary incidents thrown in for good measure. Well worth reading, if you are interested in what the Times calls ‘waspish’ comments on the English in the twentieth century.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

A very interesting gentleman, even into his later years. Good web site.