Robert Tanitch’s Round-Up of Books No 5 (2017)
London Theatres (Frances Lincoln £30). Text by Michael Coveney. Photographs by Peter Dazeley. 46 theatres. Our theatres are the envy of the world. This big, beautiful and handsome book pays tribute to the architects, Frank Matcham, C J Phipps and W G R Sprague, and takes a look at their restoration, refurbishment, improvement and modernisation. Dazeley’s photographs are excellent, constantly finding unexpected angles when is looking at auditoria. Coveney carries his in-depth knowledgeable lightly and there is an affectionate foreword by Mark Rylance.
The Grip of Film by Richard Ayoade (Faber & Faber £14.99). There are lots of film buffs who are going to find what Ayoade has to say about the movies, actors, Oscars, British cinema and Independent films very funny and true. The way he plays with the language and his wit may not be to everybody’s taste but his abrasive style is the book’s forte and a real bonus.
Flash! Photographs, Writing & Surprising illumination by Kate Flint (Oxford University Press £25.00). This cultural history of flash photography from the mid-19th century to the present day will have a special appeal for professional and amateur photographers. Sudden, shocking, extraordinarily bright, Flash is inseparable from anxieties about intrusion and violence. Weegee (Arthur Fellig) was the master of the crime scene and the paparazzi have been chasing celebrities, even to their death. But Flash can also have a beneficiary impact in the way it instantly records social conditions, racial issues and environmental problems.
Pocket Playhouse Thirty-Six Short Entertainments by Michael Frayn (Faber & Faber £12.99). Here are monologues, duologues and polylogues, comic sketches about: heritage tours, directing plays, praying to God, talking to Mozart, etc. Everybody will have their favourite. Frayn can be very funny. Matchbox Theatre didn’t work on stage. But six of the best of Pocket Playhouse could be filmed as a series for television and work really well on screen in the same way the Alan Bennett and the Queer monologues worked so well.