Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Man With The Golden Pen (theatre)

Upstairs at the Lamb in Old Town, The Lamb Theatre is the intimate venue for the premiere of a new Chancel Productions play entitled The Man With The Golden Pen. The one-man piece portrays a period in the life of Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond spy thrillers. Written by Mark Burgess, the play stars Michael Chance and is directed by Louise Jameson.

"Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, Secret Agent 007, stands before the audience, a Martini in hand, a terrified look in his eyes. At 42 he is about to do the thing he most fears; he is getting married!
It is 1952 and Fleming is putting the finishing touches to the first Bond book, Casino Royale and Bond is with us; the alter ego, an icon of class and everything Fleming aspired to."

Lamb Theatre, Sat 12th May, 19:30.
£10, concessions £8.

Following the single Eastbourne performance, the play will transfer to the Brighton Festival, upstairs at the Three & Ten for three nights (15th, 16th & 17th May).

1 comment:

  1. The Man With The Golden Pen is a one-man play portraying two moments in the life of author Ian Fleming. We see Fleming talking to his great creation, James Bond, initially as he writes the first book, and again some ten years later when public demand and Hollywood films are giving the character a life of his own. We learn about Fleming's life, why he began Casino Royale and how various aspects of Bond's world came into being - M is for Mother.

    I wasn't expecting the play to be so funny. Fleming had, or has been given, a wonderfully dry sense of humour coupled with just enough class prejudice and misogyny to frequently draw laughter from the audience and Michael Chance's sense of timing is excellent. The disbelief shown at Hollywood giving the James Bond role to a 'former coffin polisher and milkman' was just pefect. Chance obviously understands Ian Fleming completely. I loved his boyish excitement at Bond's creation and wistful desire that Bond have all the fun for both of them. The later contrast of the sick Fleming realising that Bond will continue to have fun without his creator was very poignant. My boyfriend did mention that when Fleming was also seated he was not always easy to hear - we do generally sit at the back as he is a terrible fidget! - but otherwise Chance's delivery was strong and clear, very much on character with enough arrogance for the earlier time period and a wonderful subdued despair for the later.

    The set was simple but with interesting details and I did like the use of lighting, particularly the effective 'cinema'. Also the sharp spotlight heralding each Act, together with Chance's focussed stare over our heads, made it completely believable that a living James Bond stood just out of sight in the shadows behind us. A recorded voice periodically narrated a few lines from the books - a single voice initially and then a series of different voices ten years later, reinforcing Fleming's concern that Bond was escaping his control. This great aural device gave the impression of passing scenes but without slowing the piece down. As it was, I felt that the first Act was a little rushed, perhaps first night nerves, but the second Act was well-judged.

    We were both very happy that we had taken a chance on The Man With The Golden Pen and I would certainly encourage anyone to go and see it. You won't need to be a James Bond fan - Boyfriend certainly isn't - because the man you will see on stage is so much more than just That Author. There are a couple of minor issues to iron out, particularly the trousers, but otherwise I think everyone concerned can be proud of a most successful first night.