Yesterday, there was a standing ovation at the National Theatre for Hamlet. There was something very satisfying about being part of an audience that can show its appreciation for the production they’ve just seen. The standing ovation started as a coy gesture by a few people, but grew to nearly the whole audience. I felt really pleased with myself for being one of the first onto my feet. I was getting some practice being at the las night/matinée of the long ensemble in Stratford and was getting a little less conscious of myself. I had also finished Judi Dench’s autobiography And Furthermore where she talks about the British being more reserved than the Americans and that the Americans are much more likely to show their appreciation by clapping on an entrance and standing at the end of the play. This spurred me on to be less reserved than normal and to stand at the end of a production I’d admired on a previous visit and had, with regret, stayed seated at the end.
Yes, I’ve just finished And Furthermore, Judi Dench’s autobiography. When I say that I have finished it, I have finished the audiobook version read by Samantha Bond. As I was listening, I wasn’t thinking that this was Samantha Bond reading, but Judi Dench telling her story. Bond was able to pick up Dench’s voice brilliantly and there were some ironic moments when Dench is talking about working with Bond. For example, when Dench talks about directing Bond as Beatrice in Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Company, Much Ado About Nothing.
The one thing that really comes across is Dench’s humour. There always seems to be lots of laughter where Dench works. Dench talks about the surprise walk on parts she has undertaken in other people’s productions as well as the continuing saga of the black glove! As well as the successes and happy times, Dench shares sad moments with us, such as her husband Michael William’s sad death from cancer. What I liked about this book was that Dench was always very reflective, always willing to learn from things that didn’t go so well, as well as the performances which were clearly well received. In the book, Dench talks about the intrusive journalism that goes beyond the professional and pries into the private, and I thought the book struck a good balance between letting the reader/listener know something about Dench’s approach to her work, as well as keeping some things private.
And Furthermore is a survey of Dench’s professional life, her theatre work, her television work and later in her career, her film work. It is therefore, a history of the RSC, the National Theatre and other creative projects such as Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Company. It’s extremely enjoyable, and very informative. I really enjoyed it.
And Furthermore audiobook is available from Audible http://www.audible.co.uk