Winner of the Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography 2011
Drawing on a lifetime of writing about theatre and film, Callow takes us behind the curtain and behind the camera to introduce us to the performers and performances that have shaped him as an actor and as a public persona. They include giants like Orson Welles, Charles Dickens, Tommy Cooper, Charles Laughton and Laurence Olivier.
The book reconstructs the highlights of his career, including his breakthrough roles as the foul-mouthed Mozart in Amadeus, and as Reverend Beebe in the film of A Room With a View, at the personal insistence of producer Ismail Merchant. The pieces are interspersed with commentaries on pantomime, nudity, homosexuality, and the many other aspects of a rich and varied life, both on and off the stage.
Read by Simon Callow
©2010 Simon Callow (P)2011 Audible Ltd
This is a glorious work. I can't even begin to emulate his grasp of the english language or am I able to wax lyrical enough at the pleasure of listening to his voice, the instrument mentioned in the title. So many actors that I have heard about brought into focus with his many pieces of writing. I was a little hesitant to start listening to begin with as I was drawn to it because of a fondness for his'"Chance'' character, and this work has such depth I now find it hard to stop.
I like to weed and read at the same time.
Simon Callow gives us a glimpse of his life enriched by readings of previously published erudite,funny,detailed and thoughtful pieces ranging from Newspaper reviews to eulogies for colleagues both living and dead. His voice is quite wonderful, his sense of humor delicious and his compassion endless. He is self deprecating and discrete about his personal life. There are extremely interesting ( to me) essays about acting and directing techniques, Stanislavski, Wells, Hall. Gielguid, Schofield and Richardson to mention just a few. This book has sent me off on a hunt for many of the books he cites and quotes from. To me this is is what a good autobiography should do. I listened to it three times and like all favorite books,can't bear to finish it and so the last half hour remains unheard.
How I wanted so badly, being a fan of Simon Callow's acting, for this to be a real memoir, a tale of his life. Which it is, to an extent... interspersed every few minutes by reviews and articles he has written for various publications over the last couple of decades. This made me feel a little cheated. Even his grand style, good writing and lovely accent can't make it better.
The articles completely take away from the story, adding far too many superficial references to various (sometimes obscure) people and plays of whom Callow reviews... and tends to hack the story to "pieces," instead of contributing any real value.
This book would have been so much better and worth reading without these added articles, which made the story feel cheapened, having relied on already-written content, often well over 10 or 15 years old, to lengthen the book. I found myself skipping most of them, desperate to hear the short snippets of actual story between them.
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