Sand in the Sandwiches Review

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Sand in the Sandwiches at Oxford Playhouse on Wednesday 26th October,
The Upton Theatre Group spent a delightful evening watching Double BAFTA
winner Edward Fox starring in this one-man performance, bringing John
Betjeman’s poetry and his vivacious personality to life. What a tour de
force, all those words, and Edward Fox brought it to life with all the charm
and presence you would expect from such an actor.
Betjeman is one of the nation’s favourite poets. Sand in the Sandwiches
celebrated a man famous not only for light verse and laughter, but for his
passions, his sense of purpose and his unforgettable poetry. The Arrest of
Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel and Trebetherick were two of the fabulous
poems included in the performance.
Through his boyhood, adolescence and on to life as Britain’s Poet Laureate,
the performance embraced Betjeman’s delight for nostalgia and delicious
irreverence. The evening gave us a hugely entertaining insight into the world
of this much-loved poet. There were moments of laughter, naughtiness and
also great poignancy as his relationship with his father was explored. We
looked at his love affair with Elizabeth Cavendish, despite his marriage to
Penelope, and his amazingly positive view of his Parkinson’s and his uplifting
view looking towards the end of his life.
It was also an interesting ‘spotlight’ on how society and attitudes have
changed which gave rise to some interesting discussion on our journey home.
There was, I feel, an issue with the sound in the first act. I heard others
discussing this at the interval; however, it seemed better in the second act.
Had I grown used to it, or had they fixed it at the sound desk? Who knows!
On a slightly different level, the refurbishment of the theatre is wonderful,
finished I believe in August, more space, luscious colours, fabulous!
It was a wonderfully entertaining evening and had me digging out my John
Betjeman Collected Poems book as soon as I got home.
Sarah Carter