Risky Regencies

A Tuesday Miscellany

I’ve been back from my England/France trip for over a week now, and I’m beginning to settle back in. (Though a quick trip to Kansas City didn’t help, either in terms of jetlag or Putting Stuff Away.) So today’s post will be catching up on this and that, and rather miscellaneous.


Thank you to everyone who joined in the discussion for our first “meeting” of the Jane Austen Movie Club last week, when we discussed the 1995 Persuasion! What a lot of fun.

Our next meeting will be August 7 (remember, it’s always the first Tuesday of the month), and we will discuss the 1996 Emma (the one starring Gwyneth Paltrow.) It’s short, it’s easy to find, and I know there are differences of opinion on it, so I think it should be fun to discuss! (And Lois already has a copy.) 🙂


While in London, Todd and I saw the new production of the 1953 Sartre play Kean (which is itself a reworking of a much earlier Dumas play).

I know very little about the Dumas original, but the Sartre play takes what it wants from Kean’s life, and substitutes fiction for the rest. So the Kean socializing with the Prince of Wales is not only older than Kean was during the Regency, but older than Kean ever lived to be. (And still single!)

So what Sartre did, basically, was take the idea of Kean — a not-terribly-handsome actor from a lowly background, whose passionate and groundbreaking acting style made him an overly-indulged celebrity — and use it to talk about reality vs art (and various other things) in a play (which is nonetheless full of humor).

One choice of director Adrian Noble really threw me in this production: he set it during the 1950’s… I confess, I’d much rather have seen a Regency setting!

Here’s a picture of Antony Sher as Kean. (Photo credit: Tristram Kenton.) Interestingly, Sher is famous on the London stage for playing some of Kean’s favorite roles, including Richard III and Shylock.

Reviews of this production were mixed, with most seeing some problems with it. (For a nice overview, see http://www.theatre.com/story/id/3007600 ). The mixed reviews may have led to the low attendance which is causing the show to close earlier than originally stated…though it’s not the only show in the West End with that problem. (The musical The Drowsy Chaperone, even with Elaine Paige in the lead, is closing six months ahead of schedule, after a miniscule run.)

I confess I was severely jetlagged while watching the play…so perhaps I didn’t give it a fair trial. I found it amusing, and it certainly held the attention (the gentleman next to me who slept through it was, I am convinced, even more jetlagged than I.) But it didn’t seem to entirely succeed as much of anything, in my opinion. Sher was fine, as were the other actors — I’m not sure if I’d blame the script or the direction, but in the end none of it seemed to matter (and there were parts where things seemed to suddenly change, and the audience felt like we’d been lied to a bit, which I hate.)


The big news is I survived Heathrow! We flew the day after the terrorist attack on Glasgow — it was insanely confused and stressful (though, come to think of it, most of that was probably just Heathrow being true to itself). Then we flew to Kansas City and back, ending up stuck in our plane on the runway for an extra hour due to an unattended package.

But now I’m back! Back from London and the French Riviera. Back in the land of Mexican restaurants, the land of soft drink refills (and iced tea!), the land of wide streets and too many, too-wide cars. The land of cheap stuff, of smoggy skies, of dollar bills that all look alike, of freeways and Asian groceries and ranch dressing.

So…what do you notice when you come back home from somewhere?

And for those of you going to conference — have a great time!

Cara King, author of My Lady Gamester, who hasn’t left a bag unattended in a very long time

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15 years ago

What an amazing coincidence, but I just got back from England, France, and Kansas City myself! What are the odds??

Hmm. I saw England. Then I saw France. Then I saw…naw, never mind. 🙂

The play Kean didn’t entirely work for me. Parts of it were almost farcical, while other parts seemed more serious, and the ending was straight out of a romantic comedy. It was weird. But I thought Antony Sher was excellent.

So, what do I do when I’ve just gotten back from a long trip? First, I catch up on all the email and work that’s been piling up while I was away. Second…actually, I don’t know. I still haven’t managed to get through the first thing.


Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
15 years ago

I always have a sense of being disconnected from my surroundings when I come back from a trip overseas. And I’m always surprised that life continued on without me. What’s up with that? Everything should of course cease while I’m abroad, until I come back to comment on it.

I’m very jealous Cara. Antony Sher is a god to me. I was fortunate enough to see his Shylock and his Richard III. It almost makes me want to fly to London for the weekend to see the production before it closes.

Cara King
15 years ago

I was fortunate enough to see his Shylock and his Richard III.

Ooh! Wish I had. I’ve only seen him in this, but I have now heard all sorts of amazing things about his Shakespearean parts in particular.

And as for disconnected… One thing that throws me is that major things happen in the US (or my state or city) which I don’t hear about at all abroad — and major things happen abroad that people at home didn’t even hear about, or just heard briefly…

For example, the very recent terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow were of course MAJOR news in the UK, but when I got home people I talked to all seemed to have just a vague idea what I was talking about…or maybe they just hadn’t thought it was very important…which is a weird feeling!


15 years ago

It’s because they can’t remember where Glasgow is. 🙂 And foreigners are sadly ignorant of the travails of Paris Hilton–though, come to think of it, not ignorant enough.


15 years ago

I believe it was Antony Sher I saw as Iago a few years ago. Excellent actor and VG production, but we’d just seen a production of Verdi’s Otello the week before so were a bit out of patience with the so-called hero who goes from lovey-dovey to homicidal in about 60 seconds.

Cara King
15 years ago

were a bit out of patience with the so-called hero who goes from lovey-dovey to homicidal in about 60 seconds.

Yeah, that’s the hard part of Othello, isn’t it, Susan? To present it in such a way that it doesn’t seem quite so sudden and out of character… Not sure I’ve ever seen anyone quite pull it off, either… Maybe that’s why it’s often Iago who’s so memorable! 🙂


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