Written by: Ajay Chowdhury
The Man With The Golden Pen is a play opening this September 9th, 2001 at the Komedia in Brighton and tours through places such as Wimbledon, Preston, St. Albans and many more. And as the titles implies it is a look into the life of Bond creator Ian Fleming. It is gaurnteed to be a truly magnificint show.
In November 2000, the Sussex Arts Club, Brighton, UK saw the World Premiere of Fleming’s Bond, an imaginative one-man show charting the life and loves of the James Bond creator. Written and performed by Mark Burgess, directed by Roger Alborough, lit and designed by Dan Thompson and originally staged by the Brighton Revue Company, Fleming’s Bond was a deserved instant success.
The show was given the seal of approval by Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Limited, the copyright holder of the literary rights to James Bond and the heirs to the late Ian Lancaster Fleming. After its initial run, the play has been reworked and revived. With a new title, The Man With The Golden Pen, the Hanover Production has been graciously sponsored by Parker Pens and is currently gearing up for further performances in London and the South-East of the UK from September 9, 2001.
Mark Burgess has had a successful career as a working actor on TV and the stage in Britain. But his latest one-man has been a labour of love. An afficianado of the style and elegance of the creator of James Bond, TMWTGP took five years to write. Mark researched the subject extensively and it seems his hard work paid off. The original show was seen by members of the Fleming family and was passed fit. Mark is said to be “excited” by his imminent return to the role of Fleming, Ian Fleming.
The play is split into two stages of the ex-Etonian’s literary career. Act One begins in 1952 and sees the completion of the manuscript for Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel and Fleming reflecting on the end of 44 years of batchelorhood. Act Two transports us to 1962, with Fleming musing on the release of the first James Bond film, Dr No and looking back on the decade past with a sense of his impending mortality. The show is set in Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat where the novels were written. The author, in black-tie, sits at his writing desk and, in the jouissance of having completed “the spy story to end all spy stories”, notices the appearance of a stranger. It seems to Fleming that his fictional creation, Agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the writer’s own alter-ego has come to life. The stranger remains off-stage throughout but is muse to an introspective author, reminiscing over his early troubled youth, adventures in love and how the events of the author’s life have shaped the events found in his novels. Parallels from Fleming’s life are drawn with the fictional James Bond and the later success of the character from the films. Mark Burgess’ Ian Fleming is an amusing and sardonic raconteur though when we return to Goldeneye after an interval of 10 years (and a costume change into tasteful tropical garb), the tale takes on a tragic note with a foretaste of doom and the futility of material success in isolation from happiness.
The set is masterfully economical – Venetian blinds closed but alternately bloodied by sunset or gilded by dawn convey the simplicity of tropical life at Goldeneye. The set is cleverly dressed with the golden typewriter on which the author wrote his books, a picture of the author from his days as a Commander in British Naval Intelligence and a realistic bar from which is shaken, throughout the course of the show, copious quantities of Vodka Martini. Atmosphere is milked from the ghostly smoke of Fleming’s constantly-lit hand-made cigarettes.
Mark Burgess has written an extremely stylish and watchable piece. His urbane performance captures the spirit and the essence of a man who lived many lives and played many parts. Burgess’ delivery is exact and his performance is controlled and measured and immaculately paced. His Fleming enjoys peppery reveries, idiosyncratic disdain, a lusty appreciation of female conquests, an enthusiasm for his chosen life and later, a sombre sense of that life imperfectly lived. The performance complements the attention to detail written into the show. Filleting a complex life to its essential dramatic components is no easy task but The Man With The Golden Pen succeeds admirably both as entertainment and as an insight into an extraordinary man. Ian Fleming is dead, long live Ian Fleming.
To find out more details go to http://www.hanoverproductions.co.uk. Bookings are already open and can be made by contact Hanover Productions on Tel/Fax. 01273 – 606475, Mobile. 07803 – 141409, [email protected] and other forms are listed on their webpage.