Keepers of the Flame


Richard Jameson, an anti-hero if ever there was one, is a tricky character to get to grips with. A spirited poet reaching adulthood in the 1930s, Jameson (played by RSC veteran Alan Howard) displays few virtues: he's arrogant and egocentric. But, then, we're not supposed to warm to this slightly stooping 80-year old. Sean O'Brien's Keepers of the Flame, co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and Live Theatre, is played out in 1987. The action begins when the earnest Dr. Rebecca Stone (Caroline Faber) arrives at Jameson's ramshackle house on the Northumberland coast to persuade him to publish his biography. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that his past involvement in the far-Right activities of his father-in-law, British Fascist Party leader Henry Exton, have resulted in him making a dangerous pact with Irish extremist Francis Finnegan (played with vigour by Deka Walmsley). By the time the poet's cards are on the table, the audience's views are mirrored in those of his Jewish biographer, Dr. Stone, who finds herself utterly bereft of forgiveness for the broken but stubborn man before her.

Rachael Ogden

Metro, 11.11.03.

Alan as Richard Jameson

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