Author, Composer, Soldier-of-a-Sort review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘delicate and moving piece of storytelling’
Ivor B. Gurney was born in 1890 and joined the Royal College of Music in 1911. Like his fellow Gloucestershire-native, Laurie Lee, Gurney’s lack of wealth didn’t prohibit him leaving a tender and remarkable artistic legacy.
Author, Composer, Soldier-of-a-Sort by Jan Carey concentrates on the long-running friendship between Gurney and Marion M. Scott, a composer, musicologist and critic.
In one way, this story seems like the archetypical ‘unlikely friendship’. But they actually shared a considerable amount in common, not least in defying assumptions (Gurney as a lower-class man and Scott as a woman) in translating their love of music into a career.
Carey performs both roles with measured sophistication. One of many masterstrokes lies in performing Gurney’s Gloucester accent as soft and bubbling – like stream water over pebbles – not in the harsh, comedy West Country way most people on stage seem to opt for.
Interspersed with passages of Gurney’s music, the monologue is a delicate and very moving piece of storytelling. In one painfully beautiful scene, Gurney – now confined to a London institution post-WWI – is visited by Helen Thomas, wife of the poet Edward Thomas. Together, they trace the lanes of Gloucestershire on an Ordnance Survey Map: it’s heart-breaking.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.