Monday, August 22, 2016

150 word review: MR FOOTE'S OTHER LEG by Ian Kelly

I was interested in reading Ian Kelly's award-winning biography of the Georgian stage actor and celebrity Samuel Foote after seeing Kelly's play of the same name which starred the dazzling Simon Russell Beale.

Kelly tells the stranger-than-fiction life story well although I found the first section dealing with Foote's first burst of fame - as a true-crime writer when an uncle murdered his older brother - quite lumpy.

However Kelly excels when Foote decides on a stage career, effortlessy conjuring up the exciting, tinderbox atmosphere of being a stage performer in 18th Century London.  Kelly draws the needling friendship between Foote and David Garrick very well and handles well the wide-ranging supporting cast of nobles, artists, scientists and doctors as well as servants, lawyers, murderers and prostitutes.

Kelly navigates the quickening rapids of Foote's downfall particularly well - a celebrity seemingly destroyed by his own fame.

Highly recommended.

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