|Alex Preston reading his story|
I wasn't sure what to expect from the evening as I'd booked tickets on Beck's suggestion rather than knowing anything about the night. It turned out to be different and enjoyable.
The small chapel was filled with people and lit by candle light it was quite atmospheric. Fireworks going off in the distance added to the atmosphere.
We were treated to four readings by different authors of short stories that they had written. I got the impression (which could be wrong) that the two male authors had written stories especially for the event while the two female authors were recycling material they already had.
The evening started with Tania Hershman reading a story about a recently bereaved women. I didn't pick up the fully background on all of the character in the story and Becks had to explain it to me at the interview. Not knowing what was going on slightly limited my enjoyment of the first storey.
The second reading by Alex Preston was much longer. He'd written a storey set just after WWII where four friends reunite after the war at their former school. Although I didn't fully get where the ghosts came into the story (where the characters ghosts or was it just the spectre of the war hanging over them?) it was on the reading I enjoyed the most. Becks picked up some clever references where a war poem had been woven into the story.
After the interval (advertised as 15mins, but ended up closer to 30mins) Adam Marek read the funniest reading of the evening. The story was focused around a couple who created ghosts by making love. I'm not sure what the CoE would have to say about swearing and sex scenes in a consecrated building, but it was very good none the less. My second favourite story of the evening.
The final reading was Stella Duffy. All of the authors were new to me, but I think Stella had been saved until last as she was the 'big name' of the evening. The story she read, From the River's Mouth, had recently been aired on Radio 4. Stella probably put the most energy into any of the readings on the night, but I didn't find the story as engaging as the others and it was probably my least favourite reading of the night.
It was something totally different to do on a Friday night. I haven't found a theatre in London to rival Sydney's Belvoir, but I enjoyed my night of culture and hope it isn't so long before the next one.