Listening to this book was a surreal experience. You're laughing and almost crying on every page. Jon Richardson's humour takes you totally by surprise, he's so honest and different to other comedians.
20th century actors have this fantastic trick: they use their voices to act. Not in any overly dramatic way, as contemp actors do, but in a very understated and yet perfectly believable manner. These actors were delicious to listen to; really brought the story to life. I felt, listening, that they understood every word they said, which is not an experience that I have had often when Shakespeare is performed. Only one real problem, which is that I've become so used to seeing really strong-minded Katherina's who stay tough as nails the whole way through the play, that I had a moment of surprise when Margaret Leighton took the pitiful route. To sum up, this is a fantastic performance of a classic play ... you may take issue with the story, as I did, but in the end you giggle hysterically anyway.
The Black Moth is Heyer's first book and as such, it's not as memorable or as refined as her later stories. The melodrama is so thick you can almost wade through it ... a fact which is not assisted by Julian Rhind-Tutt's narration, which seems to be melodramatic by default. One other point on the narration - he plays Lavinia very poorly, making her very shrill and unpleasant from the beginning. The story seems to indicate that we should grow to like her, or at least to feel sorry for her. Nevertheless, once you start laughing at the ridiculous situations and relationships and allow yourself to get accustomed to the narration, it's an enjoyable story.
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