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Catching Life by the Throat written by Josephine Hart performed by Famous British Actors on CD (Abridged)

Catching Life by the Throat written by Josephine Hart performed by Famous British Actors on CD (Abridged)£7.99  -  £14.99

A Magnificent production for anyone interested in poetry! This set features live recordings from the Josephine Hart Poetry Hour: Eight of the greatest poets in the English language.


John Betjeman - A First Class Collection written by John Betjeman performed by John Betjeman on CD (Abridged)

John Betjeman - A First Class Collection written by John Betjeman performed by John Betjeman on CD (Abridged)£14.99  -  £19.99

Sir John Betjeman's unique relationship with the BBC left a lasting legacy of poetry, readings and performances. "A First Class Collection" features a selection of some of his most memorable and best-loved poetry.

Choked written by Tania Carver performed by Martyn Waites on CD (Abridged)

Choked written by Tania Carver performed by Martyn Waites on CD (Abridged)£3.99  -  £6.99

'I have something you've lost,' the voice said. 'Your daughter.' He will threaten her. The honeymoon is over for newlywed criminologist Marina Esposito. Her house is in flames. Her cop husband is in a coma. Her baby daughter is missing. And then her phone rings . . .


3 Hour Fixed Price Audio Transfer

3 Hour Fixed Price Audio Transfer£15.00

This is the fixed price £15 item to be used when ordering conversion of a sub 3 hour Audio Cassette or MP3 CD title. 

 


A Certain Justice written by P.D. James performed by Michael Jayston on CD (Unabridged)

A Certain Justice written by P.D. James performed by Michael Jayston on CD (Unabridged)£39.99

A Genius Performance by Michael Jayston!

Venetia Aldridge QC is a distinguished barrister. When she agrees to defend Garry Ashe, accused of the brutal murder of his aunt, it is one more opportunity to triumph in her career as a criminal lawyer. 


A Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens performed by BBC Full Cast Dramatisation and Robert Lindsay on CD (Abridged)

A Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens performed by BBC Full Cast Dramatisation and Robert Lindsay on CD (Abridged)£19.99  -  £34.99

Robert Lindsay stars in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of the classic novel by Charles Dickens. From the echo of the first line 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' to the final 'It is a far better thing that I do than I have ever done', Dickens' classic novel of the French revolution...


Rare!
Adventurers, Pioneers and Inventors written by Various 20th Century Adventurers and Pioneers performed by Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Francis Crick and Various Famous Adventurers on CD (Abridged)

Adventurers, Pioneers and Inventors written by Various 20th Century Adventurers and Pioneers performed by Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Francis Crick and Various Famous Adventurers on CD (Abridged)£4.99

1 "1908 Recording of the Inventor of the Phonograph and the Motion Picture Camera by Thomas Edison" 2 "1914 the Inventor Discusses His Work with Alexander Graham Bell as They Worked Together Inventing the Telephone by Thomas Watson" 3 "The 20th Century's Most Famous Physicist Discussing the...


Agatha Raisin and the Day The Floods Came written by M.C. Beaton performed by Penelope Keith on CD (Unabridged)

Agatha Raisin and the Day The Floods Came written by M.C. Beaton performed by Penelope Keith on CD (Unabridged)£14.99  -  £19.99

A Genius performance by Penelope Keith!

Drowned brides are like buses: nothing for ages, then two come along at the same time . . . ! Abandoned by husband James, Agatha hops on a plane to the South Pacific, hoping to mend her broken heart. 


Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam written by M.C. Beaton performed by Penelope Keith on CD (Unabridged)

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam written by M.C. Beaton performed by Penelope Keith on CD (Unabridged)£19.99

Feeling jilted and cross, Agatha follows a fortune-teller's advice and rents a cottage in the pretty village of Fryfam, where she hopes good fortune and true love will come chasing after her for a change. Unfortunately, her romantic notions are soon dispelled by the strange goings-on in the village.


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Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House written by M.C. Beaton performed by Penelope Keith on CD (Unabridged)

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House written by M.C. Beaton performed by Penelope Keith on CD (Unabridged)£24.99  -  £39.99

A Genius performance by Penelope Keith!

Reports of a haunted house soon have amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin snooping around, only to discover the victim of the haunting is a universally disliked old biddy on whom someone is playing a practical joke.

William Shakespeare

 

His Poetry and Plays cont.

 

We have continued to try to assess the worth of another set of performances. Some of our opinions may surprise you but hopefully they will encourage you to take the plunge and take the opportunity to listen to this great works performed by some of the greatest of acting talent.

 

 

Let's be clear, all of the performances you will find for sale on Brainfood Audiobooks will be competent. We have to say we have, over the years, consigned to the Charity Shop box all of the performances that appear to have been made with little passion to recommend them. What we have left is the greatest performances that have ever been made, and recorded/sold, of the dramatic works of William Shakespeare.

The muse of fire lives in these works and has inspired some of the greatest thespians ever to have walked the stage to perhaps their greatest heights.

In this, the first part of the second instalment of this series, we will look at a number of plays that are more marginal in their position in the audiobook canon. This does not mean that they are any less passionately performed nor are they any less worthy of consideration. All of these performances must be considered essential to anyone who loves Shakespeare and enjoys performances in their audio format. The key element we will continue to consider is the passionate beauty of the performances. 

 

 

In Othello the key dramatic characters are Othello himself and Iago the conniving servant. We currently have a total of 5 different performances in stock but these 2 standout as extra-ordinary examples of excellence. With the Marlowe Dramatic Society production the Othello, played brilliantly by Richard Johnson, we find Ian Holm at the height of his powers. His Iago as at once terrifyingly credible and wonderfully contemptuous. Without doubt the best Iago we have ever heard. Then we have the greatest performance of Othello. Paul Scofield's work on this play is definitive. Nicol Williamson plays an excellent Iago most convincing in his machinations but without the bite of Ian Holm's performance. We can dream of a Scofield / Holm performance but that was, sadly, never produced.

 

 

 

The Merchant of Venice has long been a play whose themes have sparked controversy. Once this is put to one side a new, specifically audio performance issue, arises. The drama of this play is centred about the "courtroom" scene where the Merchant seeks justice over mercy. For this scene to work well the logic of the journey must be presented as reasonable and Shylock's intransigence needs to be credible. The greatest performance of this play and one that is clearly at the top of our list is that performed by Hugh Griffith, Dorothy Tutin and a great cast including Jeremy Brett. From beginning to end this play builds to it's apogee with beautiful pace and is held together by Hugh Griffith's sublime performance. Dorothy Tutin IS Portia and has set the bar extremely high in this great role. The courtroom scene is extraordinary and holds the listener at every stage. This is THE performance for those looking for the very best production.

When considering other performances we have been challenged, by 2 separate productions, into creating a new classification of Muse of Fire - Great Work. Anthony Sher's performance of Shylock, in the Naxos recording is nothing short of sublime. He displays all the humanity and believability in order to make this character so much more than just a stereotype.  Unfortunately the supporting cast are not quite up to his mark which has caused us to downgrade this overall performance. This is one for the true aficionado looking to explore the possibilities of Shylock's character. In addition we have an exceptional performance by Warren Mitchell as Shylock and another excellent Shakespeare role played by Samuel West - another favourite of ours but mainly in his unquestionably brilliant performances of 1984 and Brighton Rock. His Bassiano is excellent. Together with Juliet Aubery's Portia, truly harking back to the genius of Dorothy Tutin. A very good production indeed.

 

 

As You Like It is a play that blends in with many of the other mistaken identity plays. One of it's distinguishing features is the seven ages of man speech in Act 2 scene 7. We have chosen the Vanessa Redgrave / Keith Michell production mainly for it's beautiful pacing and Stanley Holloway's performance as Touchstone is probably his greatest Shakespearean work. Max Adrian delivers the Seven Ages speech beautifully and, as a whole, rounds off the production as the one to beat. Not the greatest of the plays but definitely touched by the Muse of Fire.

 

 

Much Ado About Nothing is the first comedy we have looked at and these performances are definitely the best we have to offer. In the first, Rex Harrision plays Benedick with a pace and lightness of touch that may well surprise you, it did us, and Rachel Roberts performance of Beatrice shines like none other we have heard. Robert Stephens, for whom we have a consciously substantial soft-spot after his performance in Richard III, plays an excellent Claudio.

In the second production, the Marlowe Dramatic Society performance, we have an extra-ordinary collection of talent that shines as strong in quality as does the previous work if slightly less coherently. With John Gielgud as Benedick, Michael Hordern as Leonarto, Peggy Ashcroft as Beatrice and Ian Holm as Verges this production possesses more acting talent than any other but somehow fails to entertain to quite the same level.

In conclusion - Am I splitting hairs? Yes.

It would clearly be better if some of our brilliant Customers would comment. 

Just a note to mention that, there are several more modern productions of this play available but none seem to match these classic performances for their humour and wit.

 

UPDATE - Late September 2017

 

As promised we have now completed the Muse of Fire 2 series. Muse of Fire 3, the final part will be published on the 1st November 2017.

We have continued to try to assess the worth of another set of performances. Some of our opinions may surprise you but hopefully they will encourage you to take the plunge and take the opportunity to listen to this great works performed by some of the greatest of acting talent.

Let's be clear, all of the performances you will find for sale on Brainfood Audiobooks will be competent. We have to say we have, over the years, consigned to the Charity Shop box all of the performances that appear to have been made with little passion to recommend them. What we have left is the greatest performances that have ever been made, and recorded/sold, of the dramatic works of William Shakespeare.

The muse of fire lives in these works and has inspired some of the greatest thespians ever to have walked the stage to perhaps their greatest heights.

In this, the final part of the second instalment of this series, we will continue to look at a number of plays that are more marginal in their position in the audiobook canon. This does not mean that they are any less passionately performed nor are they any less worthy of consideration. All of these performances must be considered essential to anyone who loves Shakespeare and enjoys performances in their audio format. The key element we will continue to consider is the passionate beauty of the performances. 

 

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream requires a real elegance to pull it off. When we are dealing with high fantasy such as this it is crucial that the cast, and more specifically lead players, have perfect strength and authority. This helps bring the text down to earth, and to relevance with the audience, not with a bump, but with appropriate grace. Paul Scofield has very safe hands in this, and many other respects. This is the version to go for if you are looking to the very best performance. Warren Mitchell does a brilliant job injecting his special comic air into proceedings and, though ably supported in the second option, he does make this performance his own.  Still, a great foil for the more classical, and we would consider better, performance.

 

 

Hands up! The Taming of the Shrew is one of our favorite comedies. The fire in this play lies almost entirely between Petruchio and Katherina. There are many versions of this play, some go for the comedic line almost exclusively but this version plays all parts evenly. Both Derek Godfrey's Petruchio and Peggy Ashcroft's Katherina play with such a lightness of touch that the dialogue sometimes has the appearance of music. This is the only version of this play that we listen to regularly and, though there are other versions notably Frances Barber and Roger Allam's production, they never quite generate the pure unadulterated fun of this production. 

 

 

All's Well That Ends Well is not an easily classified play. The traditional Comedy/Tragedy dichotomy does not apply in this case. So the question of passion-in-performance becomes much more difficult to establish. Readers of our previous Muse of Fire reviews will know that we have a weakness for the work of Robert Stephens. In this play Mr Stephens plays the bombastic bragard Paroles with great skill and deftly avoids falling into farce. An excellent performance is also given by another one of our favourites - Claire Bloom. Her performance as Helena, the single key character of the play, dances between the comedic and tragic elements to bind the production beautifully. This, now sadly very rare, production of this play establishes a level that we have never heard surpassed. A must for all Shakespeare fans!

 

End of Muse of Fire 2

 

Look for the next, and final part of this series of reviews on 1st November 2017. Rest assured we are on the case and the wonderful work of the Bard is never far from our ears.

 

All Shakespeare Performances We Have to Offer

 

Non-Fiction on Audio CD Non-Fiction on Cassette 
Peter Ackroyd Shakespeare Biography


Almost all, except for the brilliant Stratford's Shakespeare, of the Non-Fiction recordings available have been published in the last 20 years and so are easily available on Audio CD.

 
 
Poetry on Cassette Plays on Cassette Poetry on Audio CD Plays on Audio CD
Shakespeare Poetry on Cassette Shakespeare Drama on Cassette Shakespeare Poetry on Audio CD Shakspeare Drama on Audio CD

 

Shakespeare Poetry and Plays

The same can not be said of the poetry and plays. Many of these recordings are over 50 years old and are found mainly on Cassette. So the first major decision required when looking at the works of the Bard is -

Is it worth digging out the cassette player? 

The answer is an undoubted YES!

One of our core principles is to offer an opportunity to find old recordings of works, which in many cases never made it to CD. So the next question is -

Are the recordings of some of the best Actors and Actresses of the 50's, 60's and 70's still worth listening to?

If you haven't heard these recordings then you haven't heard the recordings that inspired the current crop of actors who perform these works.If you haven't heard these recordings then the beautiful tones and wonderful audio flexibility developed by these actors over many years of work in Rep, something that has all but died out in the last 20 years, still awaits you.

Just a few of the many names to look for are - Lawrence Olivier, Robert Stephens, Peggy Ashcroft, John Gielgud, Paul Scofield, Vivien Leigh and Richard Burton

So, with your CD or cassette player at hand, it is time to choose from the marvelous selection we have to offer.

Wherever you look, you have a treat in store!