A rare opportunity to experience great theatre on screen
The great Ralph Richardson in the very final phase of his magnificent career.
Early Days is not a movie, it is not strictly a play, but it is a piece of theatre that manages, via fine acting and magical writing (David Storey) talented setting and sensitive direction, to transfer the magic of the theatre onto the screen via video tape.
In Early Days, you have the rarest of treats, waiting for you to fill the role of audience and complete the magic circle of staged Drama.
Ralph Richardson plays Sir Richard Kitchen, a retired politician who was once leader of his party and would surely have been Prime Minister. At the opening, Kitchen is living out the last moments of his life, at the home of his daughter and son in law, where the absence of personal authority and power, the loneliness of seclusion and old age, and his family's inability to accept either his right to self determination or his version of the truth, forces him to reflect upon his early childhood and his lifetime of numerous regrets.
The theatre piece consists of a chain of scenes involving his daughter, his son in law (who he heartily detests) and his granddaughter, with whom he has the most successful and yet the harshest relationship, and Bristol, a seriously flawed and troubled man, who works for his son in law, but who has been engaged temporarily as be the old man's companion.
Kitchen's only respite seems to be with his newly appointed doctor, and his granddaughter's boyfriend, a very pleasant poet and intellectual.
All performances are fine, but Ralph Richardson, at the very end of his actual life and career, and clearly coping with the ravages of old age, plays the dying Kitchen with great, and at times frighteningly powerful forces.
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