In Theatre, W. Somerset Maugham–the author of the classic novels Of Human Bondage and Up at the Villa–introduces us to Julia Lambert, a woman of breathtaking poise and talent whose looks have stood by her forty-six years. She is one of the greatest actresses England–so good, in fact, that perhaps she never stops acting.It seems that noting can ruffle her satin feathers, until a quiet stranger who challenges Julia's very sense of self. As a result, she will endure rejection for the first time, her capacity as a mother will be affronted, and her ability to put on whatever face she desired for her public will prove limited. In Theatre, Maugham subtly exposes the tensions and triumphs that occur when acting and reality blend together, and–for Julia–ultimately reverse.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Theatre follows the lives of an actress and her actor husband who finds himself much more of a director and manager of their eventual own theatre. He is handsome, mediocre on the stage and the essential cog of their entrepeneurial machine. She, Julia, is so encompassing as an actress, wildly vivacious at parties and, initially at least, faithful to Michael. Then the bubble of her life and thoughts leads to an almost mid-life crisis affect. The strive for youth and to experience youth (and own or purchase it, in actuality and metophorically) become obsessions. Although always present, her sarcasm and put-downs of others are heightened and at times she "plays" a unladylike and undesirable "part". She becomes a "damned fool" for love and seeks from others the admiration and ego-massage she preserves her husband with. A vacation for her is conveniently turned into a treat for her hosts and her manipulation of all around her is astounding. Shamefully, the tale does not end, it just stops. I'm sure a good play has a scene or two of tying up lose ends and satisfying it's audience. This novel, however, deems the turn of maturity in Julia in dining alone and proving she exists beyond her many parts a sufficient ending. In truth, I believe Theatre to be perpetual. It could go on and on, as a succesful play would show again again.A pleasant read and a gorgeously old fashioned edition - thank you public library.read more
Scandalous Maugham at his best! Knowing the dramas of theatrical life- i thoroughly enjoyed this book!read more
Somerset Maugham before he turned a full fledged novelist was an illustrious playwright. And even though he never got too involved in the workings of the theatre, was a close observer. It is some of this experience that eventually made its way into the novel he wrote later on in 1937.Theatre or/and its 2004 literary adaptation, Being Julia (directed by director István Szabó), is the story of an exquisitely talented and alluring stage actress Julia Lambert, and her trysts with various men. In Julia, Maugham creates a memorable and life and blood female character, who is as despicable as she is delightful, as artificial as she is alluring, and as capricious as she is charming. It's easy to read her as scheming and manipulative, but that would be a surface reading of this extremely complex woman. Linda Goodman would easily identify her as a Geminine - who is many women at the same time. Her airy superficiality and self-absorption make her difficult to like, and yet, Maugham does not condemn her. He writes her part with stunning constancy and depth, and even though he depicts what is truly pathetic about her state, one guesses Maugham is quite taken in by her spirit and allure to let her slip into being anything dismal. He allows her a grand comeback, from the brink of despair.read more
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