Drama based on three stories of Saki, 'The Storyteller', 'The Lumber Room' and 'Sredni Vashtar', each one telling a cruelly funny tale of children using their imagination to overcome their repressed upbringing.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Saki
...
Mrs. De Ropp
Thomas Byrne ...
...
...
Conradin (as Sam Honywood)
Julia Joyce ...
Jane
Madeleine Williams ...
Enid
Andrew Byrne ...
...
Maid
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Drama based on three stories of Saki, 'The Storyteller', 'The Lumber Room' and 'Sredni Vashtar', each one telling a cruelly funny tale of children using their imagination to overcome their repressed upbringing.

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2 May 2007 (UK)  »

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Solid trio of stories but it is the delivery that makes it work as well as it does
10 September 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

While travelling on a train, a bachelor finds himself with a stiff, elderly woman and her three young wards. They are bored and, as such, unbearable company as they shuffle, sing and generally make noise and distraction. The attempt by the woman to tell the children at story backfires spectacularly and is met with general polite derision. So the bachelor himself decides to try – much to the stuffy amusement of the woman, who assumes that is she cannot entertain them then sure this bachelor will have no hope. The opening lines suggest that she is correct – however the bachelor goes on to fire their imagination much more.

Shown as part of BBC4's Edwardian season of films a few months ago, this film sat on my hard-drive long after all the other documentaries I recorded had been watched. The reason was probably because I wasn't sure what it was going to be like and the "selling point" that it was based on the stories of Saki from the period meant little to me since my only experience with Saki was to do with rice wine, not with the one here. When I did watch it though I very much enjoyed what I found. From the start the film is as much about the telling of the stories as it is about the stories themselves. Although towards the end the story is "straighter" but by then I was hooked into it well. The dialogue is good but the delivery is what made it for me because it does make it a good telling, with the narrator interacting with scenes he is only talking about and characters within his story.

Personally I did not find the stories themselves to be that strong but they did fit with the Edwardian season as they were mostly about stimulating the imagination of children otherwise held back by the repressed culture and time they are surrounded by. Hobkinson's adaptation and direction is a big part of this working and it remains slick and enjoyable, even when the stories get a bit darker and reduce the fun of the early stages. Daniels gets into the mood of the piece really easily and he brings Hobkinson's script alive with a delicious energy that makes it work. He is well supported by a well-cast Jones, who is in good form. Meanwhile the children are all good and convince within their period and never seriously slip into modernism at any point.

Overall then, despite Saki's writing not being as strong as perhaps BBC4 led me to believe, the delivery is roundly strong, making this film enjoyable and entertaining.


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