An anthology of poetry and two plays by a major 20th century English playwright

An anthology of poetry and two plays by a major 20th century English playwright

Robert Tanitch reviews the latest books

The Zoo of the New: Poems to Read Now Selected by Nick Laird & Don Paterson (Particular Books imprint of Penguin Books £25)

The poems in this anthology are those Laird and Peterson love and want to share. They have sought poems for their timelessness, however distant, however foreign, and arranged them in alphabetical order by title

The range is wide. There are poems by Burns, Frost, O’Hara, Dickenson, Plath, Blake, Wordsworth and many, many more, covering 600 years. The only restriction in their rattle-bag choice is that nobody under 60 is included. There are poets you have heard of and poets you may not have heard of. Either way, you are on a winning ticket

Find poems you haven’t read in years and want to read again. Find poets you have been meaning to read and haven’t got round to yet. In an age of alternative facts, poems tell truths. It’s a progressive act to listen to other people’s pains and feeling. Dip in at random and you are bound to find something you like.

Love In Idleness/Less Than Kind by Terence Rattigan (Nick Hern Books £14.99)

A young boy, evacuated to Canada at the beginning of World War 2, returns, 17-years-old, to find that his widowed mother is living in sin with a very rich industrialist who is a member of the war cabinet. He immediately starts behaving as if he were Hamlet and treating his mother as if she were Gertrude and forcing her to make a choice between him and her lover.

In 1944 Terence Rattigan wrote Less Than Kind, hoping Gertrude Lawrence would star as the mother. But she turned him down and the play found its way into clutches Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne, America’s most famous husband and wife team. They demanded extensive rewrites to suit their tastes and personalities. The result was Love in Idleness which had successful runs in London and New York.

Rattigan always said Love in Idleness was a far better play, but he may have been kowtowing to the Lunts. Now that both texts are published in one volume readers can judge for themselves which is the better play. There is an excellent introduction by Dan Rebellato.

Love in Idleness is now running at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London and reviewed at:

To learn more about Robert Tanitch and his reviews, click here to go to his website