FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER REVIEW: Bright Star

Bright Star - Diana Quick and Jotham Annan read Keats and Austen. The Vicar’s Hall, Festival of Chichester, June 16

There can be no apter place for a poetry reading of Keats than the very room in which he began writing arguably one of his greatest poetical works, The Eve of St Agnes. This wonderful poem of forbidden young love was thrillingly read by Emmy award winning actress of the original Brideshead Revisited fame, Diana Quick, alongside the excellent young actor Jotham Annan, who is most familiar on our small screens as Nathan Hargreave in Holby City.

The evening had a lovely structure to it. The first half consisted of selected poems of Keats, with period-sounding musical interludes played by Chichester musicians Linda Kelsall-Barnett on the classical guitar and Mitch Callow on his hand-built baroque guitar. The second half was devoted to highlights from that most wonderful and witty of Jane Austen’s novels Pride and Prejudice, again presented with evocative musical interludes.

Diana Quick gave a heart-stoppingly melodious and sumptuous rendition of Ode to a Nightingale, while Jotham Annan brought splendid presence and power to Ode on a Grecian Urn. But the highlight of the evening had to be the sections of Pride and Prejudice, where the two actors played the various roles – including Mr Darcy and Elizabeth – to tell the story. It was a delightful evening, all left uplifted and smiling. Chichester looks forward to more such wonderful festival events!

Sophie Ashton