By Ana Ingham
Unpublished play in manuscript
London, 2009
37 pages

Comments by Bob Corbett
November 2011

I am a serious fan of the writings of Ana Ingham and have comments on six books she’s authored. This short play is my favorite. Perhaps it because I so closely relate to the main character a bit older than I, but facing those later years in life when the dreams we have are nearly as real and the realities, if not even more so now and again.

Kevin is in his 80s. His wife of more than 50 years has died just a couple years ago. They had no children and he seems to have no friends or relatives. He is in his last hours living in his small London apartment, about to be taken away to a retirement home to die.

Those in charge have removed most of his personal belonging, including his books, but they left him a sort of sleazy periodical, Celebrities Magazine. Peter has read it and in telling the story of his life to us the audience, he first tells us the actual story then drifts off into dreams of encounters with the various celebrities featured in the magazine. These include Daniel, a sort of government agitator/assassin who operated in an African nation. After being turned in by two “friends” he spent 7 years in prison and now seeks revenge and wealth in a tell-it-all expose of them. We meet Dora, a famous painter who only paints her cats, Thomas a reformed gangster, about to receive Prince Charles here in Kevin’s apartment. My favorite character is Jane, a (now) famous animal welfare researcher who was earlier a prostitute and liked that life better than her present fame since political correctness prevents the modern men from relating to women with authenticity. Dame Dearly, a conservative MP comes to seek his vote, and even a non-visitor, a street fellow who feeds out of garbage cans, is seen from his window.

Just before the actual nurse from the health service arrives there is a last character out of his very distant past, a contact from a musical theater group.

In the interplay with Kevin’s quite non-sensational life and, all of a sudden, in these dreams, being with and among famous and notorious people, his dream-life gives him something of joy even as he awaits his death.

As usual with Ingham’s writing, I was deeply touched by the sensitivity she has to her characters, giving them reality and believability, making me care about people I wouldn’t normally care about. I love that challenge she always lays at my feet.

I can’t leave these comments without an aside about the character Jane and her views on political correctness. This is a topic that has rankled me for years and Ingham’s creation of Jane is one of genius. Jane is middle aged and still beautiful and sexy (seemingly the magazine article has told us this), and a well-know researcher of animal welfare issues. However, earlier in life she was a “tart,” which if I understand the British meaning here intended means a prostitute. However, Jane prefers the honesty with which she was treated in her life as a tart over the falseness that’s crept into men’s treatment of her because of the outcome of political correctness. Oh my, that is a theme very dear to my heart. Ironically, however, for me the troubles I have with the role and power of political correctness is not as much in our treatment of woman or people of color as it is in relation to education and our modern modes of raising children. Nonetheless, that particular scene in the play just elated me beyond measure.

Once again I have had the great joy provided by reading the pages of Anna Ingham. I highly recommend this short play. It is touching, challenging as well as superb and creative literature.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu


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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu