Monthly Archives: January 2017

Death at the Festival pp183 sc | Death in Titipu pp203 sc | Through a Brick Wall Darkly pp216 sc by Barbara Yates Rothwell


Trafford Publishing.


reviewed by Alice Woode


Now in her ninth decade, Barbara Yates Rothwell demonstrates an energy that is frankly extraordinary. At an age when many of her contemporaries are either dead or building tiny houses of sea shells, Yates Rothwell forges ahead. A mother of six, she founded and ran a school for a decade in the 1980s, she worked as music critic for The West Australian newspaper for ten years – and prior to settling in Australia, was Women’s Page editor for a large group of weekly papers in the UK.


In Death at the Festival, Rothwell is in familiar territory (that is, in a purely musical context). It focuses on the murder of two celebrated concert pianists who have turned up to take part in the festival. It’s a book that ought to be read by any and every musician who has played at one or other – or many – music festivals – and that goes for festival organisers as well. The reader is kept guessing until almost the very end.

It’s a thumping read.


If Death at the Festival focuses on professional musicians, Death in Titipu is peopled by those amateur musicians – both singers and instrumentalists – who for decades past have been the lifeblood of the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire as members of one or other of the many G&S societies in English-speaking environments around the globe.


It’s a fascinating whodunit. Titipu’s interpreter who is also the local school principal is done to death and as the police delve into the often murky backgrounds of some of the other players, unpleasant facts emerge, not least about Miss Teresa Glencosset, the principal of St Chedwyn’s school for girls; she is most definitely not nice.


It’s a real page turner. Don’t begin reading it at bedtime. The chances are that you’ll be so intrigued by the murky goings-on among the G&S crowd that you’ll carry on reading into the wee hours and stumble about groggily from tiredness the following day – as happened to me.

Through a Brick Wall Darkly is the antithesis of the whodunit. It’s a beautifully written story about adoption and the emotional minefield that has so often to be traversed by those involved in the process. It should be read by anyone contemplating adoption. Yates Rothwell offers a movingly sensitive, bittersweet tale about the effects the process can have on so many people. Depression, elation, regret, confusion, despair are so often the essence of the process. It’s a touching, at times desperately sad, story that ought to be read by anyone contemplating involvement in an adoption. Throughout, Yates Rothwell never puts a foot wrong in this beautifully considered book.

Book Review

Tartuffe (Moliere)

State Theatre

reviewed by Neville Cohn


To experience Black Swan Theatre’s frankly delightful production of Moliere’s timeless Tartuffe is as refreshing an entertainment as a cool shower on a very hot day.


With a gratifying sense of onward momentum and an entirely appropriate lightness of touch, Moliere’s play worked the magic that has made it a theatrical favourite for centuries. Pace is crucial here – and on this count director Kate Cherry could not be faulted.


This production of Tartuffe plays out against a very 21st-century background. The set is cleverly designed by Richard Roberts. It looks as if the play is set in, say, suburban Scarborough – and its neatness and polish are largely due to the efforts of the maid Dorine,  played delightfully by Emily Weir. Her role is a crucial one and she essays it as if it had been written especially for her.


The sons and father of the household, too, enter splendidly into the spirit of the play; it is theatrically spot-on.


As Tartuffe, Darren Gilshenin warrants the highest praise. He could not be faulted. This is the sort of characterisation that critics pray to experience but only very rarely encounter in reality. The timelessness of Moliere’s play is underscored by the visceral unpleasantness of Tartuffe, surely one of theatre’s most appalling, indeed disgusting, characters, a man who has made deception and hypocrisy a way of life, in fact an art form. His ability to lie and deceive is exceptional.

Cast.Tartuffe Image

Daniel James Grant

In the wonderfully capable hands and voice of Gilshenan, Tartuffe is given a face that faultlessly mirrors each nuance of this stomach-churning crook. Gilshenan hands us a Tartuffe who is the most revolting of hypocrites. The timelessness of Moliere’s play is assured by the playwright’s genius in bringing the vomitous Tartuffe to life; his visceral unpleasantness is limitless.


At one time or another, we have all encountered Tartuffe clones, those who exploit circumstances of the moment to advance their own interests which are invariably to the detriment of innocent others. And Moliere’s genius ensures that Tartuffe is as much of today as of the century in which the play was written.


Lighting, decor and garb – all this is of A1 quality – but the translation of the text into English – or rather its presentation –  is not always at the standard of these other theatrical high points. There was a lack of even flow; frequently words sounded stilted or awkward.