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Audio Drama Review
John Gielgud (1904-2000) was a well-respected British theatre director and actor, with a distinctive eloquently sonorous voice. Over the eighty years of his career he was one of the actors which dominated much of the twentieth century, he remains a memorable actor even if you only remember his superb comic turn as the butler in the original film of Arthur.
In the 1950’s, in response to the changing avant-garde style of theatre, Gielgud found success with his one man show, The Ages of Man. Although the idea of delineating the life cycle was not a new one, appearing in both historical and religious writings, Gielgud took his inspiration from the plays and soliloquies of Shakespeare. This was an obvious choice for him as he was considered to be one of the best exponents of the Bard’s words.
He ran with the show every year, between 1956-67. His 1958 Broadway show won a Tony and the audio recording won a Grammy in 1979. He even got to perform it in the Whitehouse in 1965.
The show consist of sixteen different readings from various plays and sonnets, structuring them around the idea of man's journey from cradle to grave, taking its title from a speech in As You Like It ("All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players..."). The show was separated into three sections reflecting Youth, Manhood and Old Age.
This is a well-received reissue of the recording, with Gielgud showing his perfect diction and mastery of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter which shows why, alongside Laurence Olivier the two dominated the theatre for a greater part of the latter twentieth century.
Starting with As You like It and ending with The Tempest, this is a ‘must have’ addition to your spoken word collection.