The long life and great good fortune of John Clare – a note


This is a shout-out for a touring production I admire.   I welcome it in with the latest Roger Hardy logo,  the Touring Mouse. See below…
Here’s why.  When Tony Ramsay’s play for Eastern Angles first opened – I saw it in a hall in Beccles –  I reviewed it for the Times (still available, paywall but    Now that its tour is  approaching the Pleasance,  I commend it again.
It is an original, oblique telling of the story of the peasant-poet John Clare:  his harsh agricultural life, and the extreme mental illness which led him to spend his final 27 years in asylums,   belie the beauty of his work.
Edward Bond’s furious play “The Fool” used Clare as an exemplar of working-class persecution by a toff establishment,  but Ramsay’s thoughtful research throws a different light on his times and his condition,  and the respect in which he was held in his troubled lifetime.  It becomes a powerful meditation on creativity and deprssion.
My original review obviously is Times property,  but I can quote the conclusion of its four-star view:
      “It is a finer play than its  regional small-space tour might suggest; in concept, language and performance it honours poetry and pain alike.   When Richard Sandells finally speaks the lines  “I am, yet what I am none cares or knows…”  you catch your breath.”
Tour: Peterborough on 2 Nov,  01473 211498;
from 5-9 Nov at Pleasance, London N7  0207 6091800  – tour continues to 16 nov.

Touring Mouse wide


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