I Joke Too Much - The Theatre Director's Tale
Having reached the age of 75, Texan-born director Michael Rudman has decided to publish his memoirs under a title, appropriately drawn from the mouth of Willy Loman.
For those that are not in the know, one of Rudman's finest moments was arguably the best production of Death of a Salesman in living memory, starring Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich.
The title almost proves prophetic since rather than writing a conventional autobiography, Rudman groups his anecdotes around characters, plays and places.
Frequently in the early chapters too, he seems keener to amuse than report stories 100% accurately, which might prove challenging for some readers and shed little light on the world of theatre or Michael Rudman's place in it.
As a reminder, at various times over the last half-century Michael Rudman has taken the helm at the Traverse, Hampstead and Sheffield as well as working for both the RSC and the National in addition to freelance triumphs including transferring David Storey's The Changing Room to Broadway.
When Rudman gets more serious in the second half of the book, readers will learn far more about the theatre business on both sides of the Atlantic, not to mention his marriage to Felicity Kendal and work with her.
The book ends with a "highlight reel" proving beyond doubt that Michael Rudman's career is worthy of note and demonstrating the wide variety of theatrical luminaries with whom he has worked.
Those that purchase this volume will value some perceptive comments about the theatre and its people spread through the book and are likely to enjoy the sections on the director's high points, including his rather stormy time running the Lyttelton Theatre as well as the work in the West End and on Broadway.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher