Monthly Archives: May 2015

Shall I Compare Thee to a Rainy Day?

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Based on Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18), by William Shakespeare:-

Shall I compare thee to a rainy day
Thou art more refreshing and yet expected
Rough winds do turn umbrellas inside out
And British summers are filled with damp days
Sometime too deep the muddy puddles shine
And often the murky complexion dimmed
And every person has had that moment
By chance, when feet sank deep into murk and mud
As deep as I sank into thy unfading eternal storm
And never lose possession of your deepest soul
Nor shall summer come to dry up our love
Eternal water gives life to plants which grow

So long as eyes can see the veil of water
So long as it gives life, this shall give life to thee

Copyright, D M Day, 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd – film review

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I love Thomas Hardy.  I love his novels and my favourite is probably Far from the Madding Crowd, so I was really excited when I heard a new film was being made.

And it was good, mostly, but I was a little disappointed if I’m honest.  There seemed to be major holes in the portrayal of the characters and the plot and I’m not sure you’d really be able to appreciate either fully if you hadn’t read the novel.  I saw the film with my boyfriend, who hasn’t, and he didn’t care about any of the characters and felt that the plot was trite, and typical of a “girly” film.  For me, that shows that something from the novel is missing from the film.  Essentially, the basic elements of the plot seem to have been taken, and put into film format with flattened versions of the original characters.  And one of the most important scenes, critical to the end of the story, has been done so inaccurately, it doesn’t actually make much sense.

I feel like I’m being really negative now, and some parts of the film were done very well.  The shots of the English countryside were beautiful.  Gorgeous greenery, lovely animals, the scenery itself made me want to pack off to a farm and live out the rest of my days randomly jumping into sheep dip and climbing onto haystacks during thunderstorms.  Just like when I read the novel, I fell a little bit in love with Gabriel, felt genuine pity for Farmer Boldwood and hated Sergeant Troy.  Also, one of the most horrifically graphic scenes ever written in Victorian literature was done amazingly well.

So, overall, I think the film is worth seeing, but in some ways it could have been done a lot better.  The novel is definitely worth reading, and the film gives a nice basic overview of what happens.

If you like Far from the Madding Crowd, other nineteenth century novels in which the characters have to wait for love are Sense and Sensibility and The Woman in White.  Film versions of both these novels are also available.

Copyright, D M Day, 2015

Birdsong on stage – a review

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Birdsong 2

Anyone who has read Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong knows that it is a heart rending masterpiece that takes your breath away.  Very few people would be able to translate something that powerful into script, and fewer theatre companies would be able to perform that script to a standard which rendered a theatre full of people breathless and silent.

So well done to Rachel Wagstaff and The Original Theatre Company & Birdsong Productions.  You’ve created a masterpiece.

The story is beautifully complemented by epistolary monologues and flashbacks, with full use being made of lighting and off screen sound which ensures that there is no confusion as time shifts between the period prior to and during the “Great War”.  And of course, there is the haunting background sound of birdsong, an echo of the wide ranging bird imagery in the original novel.

Each member of the cast performs their role seamlessly and consistently but Edmund Wiseman is particularly wonderful in the role of Stephen.  He wears variations of his army uniform throughout the play, a clever reminder in the happier scenes of the coming of the war.  Hate and love, life and death, pain and pleasure are often featured side by side on stage, the contrasts highlighting the horrors suffered by Stephen and the other characters.

If I had one criticism, it would be that in some ways the end of the novel feels slightly more positive than the end of play, but the poignancy achieved by the ending was nevertheless beautiful, haunting and, like the end of the war, emotionally startling.

If you’ve read the book, go see the play and, if you haven’t read the book, go see it anyway.  It’s one of the finest pieces of theatre in our generation, as well as an amazing tribute to a lost generation.

If you like Birdsong, both Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy and Danny Scheinmann’s Random Acts of Heroic Love also both tell the heart breaking story of love during the Great War.

Copyright, D M Day, 2015

Somewhere, Beyond the Stars

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A new year begins
A goat skips along
Full of hope
For the things that are to come

A man walks by
Carrying an urn
He bends down
Fills it with deep clear water

Two fish are in the river
Swimming so close
To the surface
Their scales shimmer bright and silver

A ram drinks near them
They brush his nose
He jumps back
And runs away into the distance

Perhaps he saw the approaching bull
Angry and fast
Charging at imagined red
Destroying everything within his path

Banged heads see double
As two identical men pass
So alike in manner and movement
No-one would think they were individual

Until one screams and falls
A crab attached to his foot
By its bright claw
Now stained with the young man’s blood

The other runs off for help
Not noticing the lion lurking
In the grass
Just waiting for its opportunity

But the beast is easily calmed
Like many male things
By a maiden fair and pure
Wandering along singing dreamily

She sits and considers
Can she actually marry that monster?
Weighing her options carefully
In a pair of golden scales

She never notices the scorpion
Sitting quietly in one pan
Creeping as her mind wanders
It’s tail buries deep into her hand

He comes for his bride
Half horse, half man
She looks as though she is asleep
But he finds her life drained

A roar of anguish
And everything stops
The world grows dark and cold
A new year begins

Copyright, D M Day, 2015