A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
by Edward Petherbridge
The Old Red Lion is one of the oldest public houses in London; an inn of that name has stood on the same site since 1415, when Islington was just a small village. Thomas Paine began work on The Rights of Man here and the tavern’s gable end is depicted in Hogarth’s print ‘Evening’.
In 1979 a small studio theatre opened on the first floor. It seats approximately 60 people, which makes for an interesting and intimate, if ever so slightly cramped, theatrical experience for both audience and actors …
The following poem is a foretaste of a small commemorative volume Edward is producing about the play which will include his rehearsal diary (from which we published a short extract here last month) in full as well as other poems and original artworks – all related to Artist Descending.
Note: You had to be there really. To see the youngsters acting a walking tour in France on the postage-stamp stage, to appreciate Jeremy Child’s character’s obsession with Edith Sitwell. If you did come, were you part of a silent audience or one given to hilarity? There seemed to be nothing in between. E.P.
Murder at The Old Red Lion
(The red-carpet treatment)
The carpet, beer-stained fleur-de-lys
Leads to cloud-capped stage – we squeeze
Behind in cluttered gloom,
Reach our minute tiring room.
Here we’ve conned Tom Stoppard’s pages
Entered this most cramped of stages
Walked the vasty fields of France
Mused on Edith at the dance.
Tried to act and stand and Sitwell
Even when the gags don’t hit well
When there is an arid dearth
Of anything resembling mirth.
Thought, when we have talked of horses
How much breadth our narrow courses
Conjure, through Tom’s mighty line;
Wit and tenderness entwine!
Absurd, humane, satirical
The clownish, dark and lyrical
Yes the beer stained fleur-de-lys
Leads us where we strive To Be.
© Poem and photographs. Edward Petherbridge. 2010.