23/08/2017

The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn (by Adrian Plass)


Having said goodbye, for now, to our extended family, and having just completed quite a heavy, thought-provoking book, I wanted something light and, if possible, amusing. I keep books on my to-read shelf which I haven’t read for many years, by authors I like, and this one by Adrian Plass seemed to be an ideal choice.

‘The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn’ is third in the series that begins with ‘The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, age 37 ¾’. It was published at the end of the 1980s, and I remember thinking, when I first read it, that it had one of the funniest scenes I had ever come across. Part of the humour was in the unexpected, and since I’d remembered what happened, I resigned myself to a smile rather than almost crying with laughter, as I did back in 1989.

While the book stands alone, it’s better read after the ‘Sacred Diary’, as that’s where all the main characters are introduced. This is in the form of transcribed tapes (supposedly), recorded by the enthusiastic Leonard Thynn as a group in their church decide to enter a drama competition.

The book isn’t particularly long - about 140 pages in my paperback edition - but the dialogue style, complete with stops and starts, coughs and splutters, means it’s not quite as quick to read as might be expected. It’s well worth it, though. I found myself smiling several times, even chuckling aloud, before the story was anywhere near the scene I recalled so well.

Then, when I reached it, I still laughed aloud; not at the revelation, but at the reactions of the people concerned. It’s ridiculous, of course; but as with all Adrian Plass’s books, the humour, and satire, and the parts where he pokes fun at himself all mask something much deeper. We see how a group of very diverse adults pull together to create and perform something. We see, too, how even quite unpleasant people, when treated well and given roles as ‘nice’ people can start to see the world differently.

Highly recommended.

Review by copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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