What is this life … ?

Loving the theatre as I do, what better subject for my first blog in 2013 than the first play I’ve been to see this year – Privates on Parade, by Peter Nichols, which is on in London at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Simon Russell Beale in Privates on Parade

If you’re looking for something that’s mind-improving, mentally stimulating, contemplative, plot-focused – DON’T go to see this!!

If you’re looking for something that’s really good fun and terrific entertainment – DO go to see this!! For a thoroughly enjoyable evening, Privates on Parade cannot be beaten.

The play is set against the backdrop of the Malaysian campaign at the end of the Second World War. Private Flowers is posted to the Song and Dance Unit in South East Asia, where he serves under flamboyant (understatement!) Captain Dennis. Innocent Private Flowers arrives at the unit as little more than a boy: at the end of the evening, he is a man.

Simon Russell Beale is superb as the cross-dressing Captain Dennis. His Marlene Dietrich and Vera Lynn are show-stopping. Indeed, the whole cast is excellent.

I left the theatre feeling very strongly that we should leave room in our lives for pure (or not so pure, in this case) mindless entertainment, for forgetting about the things that we really ought to be seeing or ought to be reading, and giving ourselves up to something whose value is simply that it allows you to escape the real world for a few hours of the day.

This is what a good play can do. This is what a good book can do.

May you see many wonderful plays this year and read many excellent books.

Simon Russell Beale (left) and Roger Wright, courtesy of Wikipedia

  • John Jackson:

    If you cant make the theatre(and you should)


    check out the excellent film with Dennis Quilley and jon Clease.

    I wonder though if some thought the play a slightly re-worked version of It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot, Mum!

    See it if you can, and, as Liz says, pure mindless entertainment!


    • Liz:

      I’ll definitely take up your recommendation, John. I thought it a very good play – perfect for a cold evening!

      I have yet to see Simon Russell Beale in any play in which he’s been less than perfect. He was also excellent in the film, The Deep Blue Sea.

  • Love the look of the cast – I bet they have fun!

    • Liz:

      I’ll bet that they did, too.

      It was Simon Russell Beale’s birthday on the day that we went, which will have added spice to the evening. They will probably have had a party afterwards.

  • I really want to see it.

    • Liz:

      It’s great fun. With luck, it’ll still be on when you get back.

      Don’t get front row stall seats, though, as they’ve raised the stage. This is the only one of the five Michael Grandage plays for which they’ve done this – I know because, having bought front row stall seats for all of the plays, I phoned up to alter them.

  • Hello Liz, good to see you back! I do enjoy your posts on trips to the theatre. It sounds like you had an enjoyable evening. I completely agree about the need for pure mindless entertainment! I just finished reading Jane Eyre for the first time in years as research for Book 2 and I’ve been reading a lot of serious eighteenth century biographies and journals. Today I bought a couple of easy-to-read magazines to flick through and recently I’ve been glued to Celebrity Big Brother (oh dear!-it’s research of course analysing characters and how they get on together…) as sometimes the brain deserves some time off! A Happy New Year to you and best wishes for 2013.x

    • Liz:

      Many thanks for your comment, Anita. It sounds as if you’ve been doing some really interesting reading – I can’t wait to learn what your next novel is about. It sounds exciting! Presumably, you’ve moved away from Italy as a setting for your new novel.

      A very happy new year to you, too. I do hope that everything that you wish for yourself comes to pass this year.

      • Thank you Liz. Book 2 is still in Italy in the eighteenth century (as part of a Grand Tour) and in the present day-also in the U.K. Lots of research needed, but really enjoying it.x

        • Liz:

          What an interesting idea! The 18th century is a fascinating period in England, but I don’t know much about it in Italy. ‘Grand tour’ conjures up romantic visions. I’m already looking forward to reading the book 🙂

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