Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Hi Neil:

Found this review in the Irish Times this morning. Thought you (and my fellow blog-readers) might like to see it as well.

Finding the right words to thank you for all you've given me is, quite frankly, impossible; believe me, I've tried. So, from one writer to another, perhaps this will put it best: when people ask me about the influences on my own work, my reply usually sounds something like this: "Woolf...Colette...GaimanGibsonBono." Strange bedfellows, perhaps, but that's one of the gifts you've given me: to embrace all the disparate parts of one's life without fear or shame, those two being the most powerful of human emotions, surpassed only by love, which, as a fellow traveller once said, first caused the sun and the other stars to move.

Anne Ryan Barton.

The Day I Swapped My Dad For 2 Goldfish: The Ark, Dublin.

Neil Gaiman's story is so elastic there's room to push out the boundaries and create a magical theatrical experience for children.

That's just what director Eric Fraad has done at the Ark, where the five- to 10-year-olds in the audience were by turns mesmerised and tickled by the ever-changing antics of the actors and the sheer fun on stage.

The story is told by Mathew Dunphy, playing a young boy who's fond of tricks, and Orla Fitzgerald, playing his little sister, who's equally fond of teasing him. The play starts with the two skating and generally messing around while Dad hides, as usual, behind his newspaper. Enter their friend Nathan, with two goldfish in a bowl, and a swap of fish for Dad is eventually agreed upon. Mum's not pleased when she returns, and the children have to go and retrieve Dad. But Nathan has swapped him on, and there follows a chain of swaps that brings a sassy girl band on stage, followed by a snooty posh boy with his butler and a hilariously eccentric family.

Jocelyn Clarke, who adapted the story, has turned it into lively theatre. It's very much a multimedia show, so there's something going on all parts of the stage at all times. David McKean's quirky and dark illustrations are projected on a wall, giving an ever-changing backdrop, while a video screen shows the tired children pounding the streets, so bringing an element of reality to the imaginary world on stage. The superb original music is by Max Tundra.

The cast of seven is made up of experienced, mostly young actors, and when they took their bow my co-critic, six-year-old Harry, couldn't believe that's all there was and wanted to know where the rest of the people were. Niamh Linehan, Simon Jewell, Emma Moohan, Steve Blount and Ailish Symons all played several characters with expert comic timing, characterisation and conviction. The children loved the live rabbit on stage. Bruno Schwengl's set design is as flexible as it has to be, and actors use it with great energy.

There's usually a simple moral to children's books, and here it's that no matter what mistakes you make, they can be put right, although there might be obstacles and it might take some time.

By Bernice Harrison

Runs until April 17th

It sounds really fun -- I wish I could see it. And thanks for the kind words. (And strange bedfellows indeed. But good ones.)


Any chance of us getting permalinks on your posts? Now and then I comment on something you have said which I would love to point people towards, but cannot link directly to an individual post. I am sure others would love to do the same.


I keep asking. Right now, they're still trying to figure out why the journal page and archives are hanging so often, and why last June vanishes from the archives every time I post something, and I think until they've cracked that we won't get permalinks. I'd really like them too -- it would be much more useful for me to be able to link to a specific thing than to point someone to an archived month and tell them the date to scroll down to.

For now, you might want to link to the archived version of the current month, if there's a specific recent post you want to point at, rather than the main journal.

Dear Neil,
My name is Gith, the Eater of Worlds. I was going to eat this world but while sitting in a library in Slough (while digesting a previously eaten world) I stumbled across one of your books and found it so riveting I decided to spare this planet. I thought you ought to know, though you will not believe. Well done. I'll be back though.

Whew. That was a close one.