You may remember back in early September when CommanderBond.net ran two articles on a stage show highlighting parts of the life of Bond author Ian Fleming. Just over a month later Simon Firth has sent us in a review of the play which he has labeled as "superb" and a "supremely entertaining insight into the life of Ian Fleming".
The Man With the Golden Pen
Superb. The play is already open as the audience make their way to their seats. Ian Fleming, resplendent in the ubiquitous tuxedo, is standing in the middle of the set contemplating a manuscript. The audience is seated, the doors close and Mark Burgess as Ian Fleming is immediately threatened by a strong light from what is apparently the muse of James Bond. And thus the stage is set.
This is a one man show where we are given an insight into the life of Ian Fleming, his fear over his impending marriage, his love of the fast and adventurous life, martinis, hand made cigarettes in cigarette holders, women, all delivered as a one way conversation to James Bond – the muse who forever remains off stage.
The play is divided into two acts – the first is during the writing of Casino Royale in 1952, the second takes place during the filming of Dr. No. The set is simplicity itself, three venetian blinds set the scene for his room in Goldeneye, a single stand upon which he serves himself a succession of martinis and a single swivel black chair. The second act introduces the golden typewriter to the set on which he wrote his later manuscripts and a costume change for Burgess into a tropical suit. Throughout the play, Burgess intersperses his Fleming delivery with quotes from both Casino Royale and Dr No, as though he were in the process of writing them there and then. These moments are captivated by a sudden change of lighting which effectively separates them from the main narrative.
Burgess’s delivery is crisp, direct, eloquent. His writing is littered with witty, dry and sardonic slants at the fearful prospect of a late marriage, his deteriorating health, his reminiscences of girl friends – past and present. His thoughts on his suggestions as to who should play Bond in Dr No and who is eventually chosen are particularly amusing. His fast and full life in early years contrasts to his later life as he displays a more “What will be, will be” attitude as things are shown to be less in his control, but always, his style, his arrogance and his snobbery are never to be slighted.
This play will appeal to fans of the Fleming/Bond genre as easily as it will to people who would like to be subjected to a supremely entertaining insight into the life of Ian Fleming. Burgess’s research is evident; his ability to deliver a commanding and entertaining one man production is without doubt, unquestioned.
This play is touring a variety of towns in England until 24th November on its initial run. However, Hanover Productions are looking to take it on another run which will include more UK towns through to the new year. Hanover can be reached on 01273 606475 or www.hanoverproductions.co.uk The Man With the Golden Pen is sponsored by Parker Pens.
At the time that this article was published the Hanover Productions website was not working properly, so please do contact them through the provided phone number. In a previous article we did provide the e-mail address [email protected] which we presume is still working. And if you find out any details we haven't already published, please send them through to us. CommanderBond.Net is fully behind promoting 'The Man With The Golden Gun' as we try and get behind many James Bond events!
A big thank you to Simon for sending in the article.