The Dover Road (Play by A.A. Milne) – Jermyn Street Theatre

the-dover-road-poster

Thanks to Simon of Stuck in a Book’s post I was made aware of this delightful 1922 play by A. A. Milne. Bought the ticket just 2 days in advance, and strolled along to Piccadilly Circus Friday after work. This is exactly the kind of time that makes me so grateful and happy to live in London and work in Soho.

I wonder why I didn’t know about the existence of Jermyn Street Theatre before. It is a tiny 70-seaters basement theatre in the middle of Piccadilly Circus and it seems magical that it survives. It was like entering a different world as soon as you step into the theatre. It’s so small that the seats are only 4 rows and the stage is on the same level as the first row, so you can walk around the stage set- and you most probably would, as the toilets are at the back of the stage.

I’ve never seen and read A.A. Milne’s plays – so this is the first for me (I loved Winnie the Pooh series) and I really enjoyed it. Agree with Simon that the cast was just perfect. And having seen many plays in big theatres, I realised how different, how more personal, and how much I enjoyed small theatre. You can actually see people’s faces and expressions, the voices were loud and clear, and in some scenes the actors were literally 2 metres away from me and I could see all the beautiful details of the props. I promised myself to go to small theatres more, and to go back to Jermyn Street Theatre when I see anything of interest.

The plot moved swiftly in The Dover Road – unlike some plays I’ve seen that seemed to take forever to build the first act. A couple find themselves stuck in the middle of the road to Dover (Dover is where you take ferry to France) in a place that could be a hotel, or a private house. It’s quickly revealed that the woman isn’t the man’s wife, and that the host of the house Mr Latimer isn’t going to just let them go on their way easily. He suggests that the couple, Leonard and Anne, stay for a few days to sort of test-drive their future life together, which would give them time and chance to reconsider if the need arises. Soon it’s revealed that Leonard’s wife is also in the house with her beau, experiencing the same formulae, just starting a week earlier.

Since I knew absolutely nothing about the play, the beginning almost seemed like a mystery or horror (a strange house with strange people that seem oddly prepared for the couple’s arrival), while Mr Latimer seemed slightly sinister with his hobby to detain couple in his house until they are “enlightened”. But it’s none of those things, as this is a comedy – and a thoughtful one at that, as it explores the silliness of romantic love and marriage.

The quadruple in conundrum aspect reminded me a little of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest I saw last year. After seeing The Dover Road, I’m thinking the abundance of wittiness in Earnest was almost too distracting. Milne doesn’t play too much with words, but it’s equally smart and funny. It did feel more modern (Earnest is almost 30 years older) and that possibly made it more digestible. I have full intention to read this play or Milne’s other plays in the future.

Mee’s rating: 5/5

The Guardian’s The Dover Road review

 

Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

I loved Winnie the Pooh so much that in the middle of reading the book, I was compelled to write on a sticky, now stuck on the first page, so that I could be reminded about the wonderful feelings that I had while reading the book.

“When I feel anxious about life, world, and All the Big Things, I read Winnie the Pooh and melt into some kind of strawberry milkshake. And it’s like everything is gonna be okay again.”

I think that really summarizes it. I love love love the books. I read them slowly, savoring each words. Once I finished the first one (Winnie the Pooh, 1926), I ordered the second one (The House at Pooh Corner, 1928) straight away.

If you intend to read Winnie the Pooh, you really need to read both Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, because the story actually ends in the second book. (and oh the end is so touching and important..) Also, Tigger just appears on the second book, and you don’t want to miss him!

Memorable Quotes

“By the time it came to the edge of the Forest the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, ‘There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.’ But all the little streams higher up in the Forest went this way and that, quickly, eagerly, having so much to find out before it was too late.” ~p89, The House at Pooh Corner

“We keep looking for Home and not finding it, so I thought that if we looked for this Pit, we’d be sure not to find it, which would be a Good Thing, because then we might find something that we weren’t looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really.” ~ Pooh’s wisdom, The House at Pooh Corner p121

“‘Rabbit’s clever,’ said Pooh thoughtfully.
‘Yes,’ said Piglet. ‘Rabbit’s clever.’
‘And he has Brain.’
‘Yes,’ said Piglet, ‘Rabbit has Brain.’
There was a long silence.
‘I suppose,’ said Pooh, ‘that that’s why he never understands anything.'”
~ The House at Pooh Corner p127

A. A. Milne, Christopher Robin, and Pooh Bear

Winnie the Pooh movie (2011)

I watched the 2011 version of Winnie the Pooh, which takes bits and pieces from the 2 books. I also watched the first Disney movie on Pooh and friends that came out in 1977, which also takes bits and pieces from the 2 books. Then I just realized there are freakin so many Disney Pooh movies! I thought there were only those two!

The 2011 movie was quite true to the book and since I just read it it was nice that the scenes were fresh in my mind.

But in the battle between author and Disney today, there is no way Disney could’ve won! The books are so rich with humour and wisdom; the characters are so much richer, adorable, and real in the books. The only thing that Disney captured was the cuteness of the characters, which is not so bad, considering the huge task at hand. But there is just no way the magical words of A. A. Milne get transferred to the screen. Some things can only get across in words.

 

 

DLC

Disney Literature Challenge Round 3

Disney vs. Milne
on Winnie the Pooh

A. A. Milne won by long long miles!

Current Score
Disney – 1 vs. Authors – 2

More battles here…

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