Becoming Esther: a reminiscences of the Bell Jar.

[Correction: where I have mentioned The Beekeepers Daughter, it should be The Colussus.]

(Disclaimer: Recently, I was lucky enough to witness the second of two performances of Becoming Esther, in conjunction with Brighton Fringe.I was lucky enough to be given Press Tickets, after I requested them-thanks Hester Phillips! *)

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*Okay, this was last Thursday..

I’ve loved The Bell Jar, since about the age of twelve, nearly thirteen, when I saw it in Company Magazine. These women were raising a ‘dirty martini’ to this book-so why couldn’t I, in a metaphorical way? (I couldn’t drink at that age.) These glamours, highly literate women were reading and discussing a book; I wanted ‘In’.

Any way, back to the review…

The production took place in The Warren, a place I’d never heard of. Google maps led me astray, meaning I was a little over five minutes late. (I rang the venue-and the lady at the desk was so helpful!) I ran my way there..

In a way, it was a very effective production-almost like when you have a set piece in year seven drama, performed, with every body saying “Wow”. The life of Sylvia Plath was portrayed just by two people-retrospectively, ‘Ted’ and ‘Sylvia’.  Props included a backboard (as in the poem Daddy), paper balls for Baby Frieda, a prominent typewriter, and sheets of paper the audience had to read to audio. For something so simple, it was innately sophisticated.

They also had the size correct: ‘Ted’ was very tall, with ‘Sylvia’ the more demure. It was almost akin to a representation-something that you can at times see in the poetry.

It was also incredibly haunting.

At times, the poetry was recited from memory-The Beekeepers daughter, for one-or mimed to overhead audio. Or, almost, seemingly improvised-Ted’s first impressions on Nauset, anyone? Just beautiful.

Obviously, we all know that Sylvia committed suicide; I just feel that that could have been portrayed a little bit better. The actor’s could have stood still in a time frame, with the audio being read out of Plath’s final moments. It all got a bit too real to see ‘Sylvia’ mime gassing herself.

And yet..

It reminded me of why Sylvia Plath is important to me.

I think this should therefore be extended into a full length play, touring the country. It’s so worthwhile. I just wish a wider audience could see it. Plath is important, as is Ted Hughes.

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