This two-play compendium is thoroughly wonderful. If you enjoyed the "History Boys," Bennett's most recent hit play, now a hard-to-find (and excellent) movie, you will love these two one-acters. Both deal outwardly with the English spy scandals of the '50s and '60. "An Englishman Abroad" deals with Burgess in Moscow, and "A Question of Attribution" with "the fourth man" identified as Anthony Blunt in his capacity of curator of the Queen's pictures. However, the subject is really just a means of allowing Bennett to use his facility for charmingly glib dialog expressing thoughts about art, history, patriotism, and other interesting topics. The actors, a group of reliably splendid English performers, are delightful. In particular, Prunella Scales, as the Queen in "A Question of Attribution," is particularly memorable. Buy and enjoy again and again!
This is a terrific audio production of one of Coward's best and funniest plays. If you liked "Private Lives," you'll love "Blithe Spirit." This cast is wonderful--with British alternately crisp and plummy voices, they make you taste the bone-dry martinis and feel the silk dressing gowns that the triangle of romantic characters must have worn! And Madame Arcady, the much too successsful psychic, is a comic gem. You will enjoy this one, I promise.
"Speed-the-Plow" is a fast-moving comedy/drama about Hollywood values (or lack thereof) done in David Mamet's characteristic machine-gun verbal style. As usual, Mamet's dialog is superb--funny and smart--although at times he almost crosses the line into self-parody. The actors, particularly Adam Arkin as a desperate studio exec. trying to use a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move up the production ladder, are remarkably good. The only reason I did not give it five stars is that the subject matter is not earthshaking; there is no tragic core here. Think of it as "Glengarry Glen Ross" lite. However, the play is relentlessly entertaining, and there are plenty of ideas thrown out about what constitutes a commercially viable film for the listener to ponder. Altogether, this is a highly enjoyable listen, and I think any modern theatre fan will enjoy it.
This classic is now available on Audible and thank goodness for it. Despite some repetition across the monologues, one still must go a long way to find writing this painfully insightful, witty, erudite and heartfelt. Because Alan is now something of a household name, we get the added treat of hearing top-notch actors perform the roles. One caution: due to the wide range of dynamics on this recording, this is not a good commuter listen. Save it for a quiet evening at home.