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December 31, 2010

Memoir by John Murrell, reviewed by SC.

My first encounter with this riveting work was hearing it performed for CBC Radio, directed and produced by my father Robert Chesterman. I was initially convinced to listen because of the play's subject matter (Sarah Bernhardt) - being a drama freak growing up - and because both its lead actors had entranced my youthful heart when introduced by my dad (whose frequent referral to "Teddy" on the one hand and a virtual living goddess of the stage on the other, probably didn't help)...
But all that superficial silliness took its proper place as soon as the play's sparkling dialogue drew me in, and indeed Martha Henry as La Bernhardt and Edward Atienza as her faithful (adorable, lovable...) assistant Georges Pitou came alive, and it seemed as if we were right there with these two quick-witted dynamos, bodies yet a little crippled by time but minds as sharp as that of their creator...
Having already at that early age (tho my darling mother says I taught myself to read at two) read The Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt – who'd become a legend in her time, if not in my mind, as THE original drama queen of them all – I'd had my girlish qualms allowing these and similar precious perceptions to be trampled - by a man?!  Course, such pettiness proved to be exactly that, aggrandized fears to which young girls are prone – since it turned out Dad was RiGHT (was there the slightest doubt? – no, not from him 'at any rate'!):  this John Murrell was really quite a genius...
[And so, I'd realized – swept up in a sort of heady delirium, honoured to have such highly grown-up high-jinx shared with ME! - was my dad Robert C, for catalyzing such a sweet performance from this trio of perfection…]
I'm stoked today too, full of my experiences revolving round this rare theatrical event that celebrates the sheer delight of adding flights of fancy to existing history as written while, in the process, gaining unexpected understanding of times past. Those two hours of auditory elevation had me pondering a host of fresh perceptions, not least of which included heightened respect for my father's work.
Writing this review adds yet another layer to the fullness of a well-spent moment, being transported back to giddy times shared, hanging with my dad-bud when the world was our never-boring stage and the rest would melt away, as he and I would relish what we shared as father-daughter and recognize the best of what the other had to offer.…
[Marking this too as a moment to remember, brought to me – and you – by John Murrell, while reflecting on another Eve of Yet Another Year...]

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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[On http://www.goodreads.com/]