New releases

Amiable with Big Teeth

Claude McKay

A monumental literary event: the newly discovered final novel by seminal Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay, a rich and multilayered portrayal of life in 1930s Harlem and a historical protest for black freedom

This colourful, dramatic novel centres on the efforts by Harlem intelligentsia to organize support for the liberation of fascist-controlled Ethiopia, a crucial but largely forgotten event in American history. At once a penetrating satire of political machinations in Depression-era Harlem and a far-reaching story of global intrigue and romance, Amiable with Big Teeth plunges into the concerns, anxieties, hopes and dreams of African-Americans at a moment of crisis for the soul of Harlem - and America.

Paradise Lost

John Milton (and others)

Sir Ian McKellen stars as Milton in this dramatised retelling of John Milton’s epic poem about the fall of Man

Milton’s biblical masterpiece, first published in 1667, is one of English literature’s most seminal works. Straddling three worlds – Heaven, Hell and Earth – it tells the gripping story of fallen angel Satan’s rebellion against God, his temptation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Written to ‘justify the ways of God to men’, it aimed to show what caused Mankind's fall and the consequences for the world, both bad and good. By reaching back to the beginning of time, Milton hoped to discover the events that had led to the political and societal upheaval of his own era – as well as using allegory to ask powerful questions about authority, government, tyranny and disobedience. In this brand new dramatisation, Milton himself (Sir Ian McKellen) is the blind narrator grieving the loss of his wife, played by Frances Barber.

Also starring Simon Russell Beale as Satan, and adapted by award-winning poet and broadcaster Michael Symmons Roberts, this enthralling drama is a vital piece of storytelling with striking parallels to contemporary events.

Cast and credits

Milton……………………Sir Ian McKellen
Elizabeth……………………Frances Barber
Satan……………………Simon Russell Beale
Beelzebub……………………Jonathan Keeble
Adam……………………Ashley Margolis
Eve……………………Emily Pithon
Christ……………………David Seddon
Raphael……………………Conrad Nelson
God……………………Russell Dixon
All other parts were played by members of the company

Written by John Milton
Dramatised by Michael Symmons Roberts
Produced and directed by Susan Roberts

Howard's End

E.M. Forster (and others)

Spring 1905, England.

When Helen Schlegel goes to stay at Howard's End - the country home of the Wilcox family, her own life, along with that of her sister Margaret, is changed forever. This is the tale of three families at the beginning of the twentieth century: the rich Wilcoxes, the gentle, idealistic Schlegels and the lower-middle class Basts.

Frequently cited as E. M. Forster's finest work, Howard's End brilliantly explores class warfare, conflict and the English character. This BBC dramatisation skilfully brings the classic novel to life.

Starring John Hurt as the Narrator, Lisa Dillon as Margaret Schlegel, Jill Cardo as Helen Schlegel, Tom Ferguson as Tibby Schlegel, Alexandra Mathie as Aunt Juley, Malcolm Raeburn as Henry Wilcox, Ann Rye as Ruth Wilcox and Joseph Kloska as Charles Wilcox.

The Last Days of Troy

Simon Armitage (and others)

Lily Cole stars as Helen of Troy, ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’, in Simon Armitage’s vivid, visceral adaptation of Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid

For ten years, the Greeks have been laying siege to Troy to win back their abducted queen, Helen. But as the war drags on, and the battlefields run scarlet with blood, the opposing forces are entrenched in a bitter stalemate. As Gods and mortals squabble amongst themselves for the spoils of war, the exhausted warriors go to extreme lengths in a desperate grab for victory…

Dramatised by multi-award-winning poet and playwright Simon Armitage, The Last Days of Troy was first produced as a stage play at the Manchester Royal Exchange and Shakespeare’s Globe, and this radio version features the original cast. Both a tense action adventure and a powerful commentary on the futility of war, it brings Homer’s ancient myth to dynamic life and explores themes that still resonate today, in a world locked in cycles of conflict and revenge, East versus West and with the same dangerous combination of pride, lies and self-deception that fuelled the Trojan War.

‘Armitage was the real star, with his vivid and muscular dialogue and occasional flashes of humour…The Last Days of Troy was a powerful reflection on the folly of men and the cruelty of war.’ – Independent

Cast and credits
Agamemnon..................................................................David Birrell
Achilles..................................................................Jake Fairbrother
Zeus..................................................................Richard Bremmer
Odysseus..................................................................Colin Tierney
Hera..................................................................Gillian Bevan
Andromache/Thetis................................................Claire Calbraith
Hector..................................................................Simon Harrison
Helen..................................................................Lily Cole
Paris..................................................................Tom Stuart
Athene/Briseis..................................................................Francesca Zoutewelle
Priam..................................................................Garry Cooper
Patroclus..................................................................Brendan O’Hea
Astyanax..................................................................Luca Rawlinson

Original music by Alex Baranowski
Directed for radio by Susan Roberts
First directed for The Royal Exchange Theatre by Nick Bagnall

Injustice

Richard Wright

VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS.

How to go on in a world where everything is set against you? With hope? In fear? Or, in violent struggle? In this gripping and disturbing book, Richard Wright weaves his own childhood recollections with those of Bigger Thomas - a young black man trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago, and unwittingly involved in a wealthy woman's death - to paint a portrait of insurmountable oppression. Through the strange pride Bigger takes in his crime, Wright brings us to confront the systems of justice we blindly assume are always on our side.

Selected from the books Black Boy and Native Son by Richard Wright

Marriage

Jane Austen

Why do we set so much store by marriage? Jane Austen was fascinated by this question, subjecting it to her forensic eye and wonderfully ironic wit again and again. Here are stolen glances and nervous advances, meddling parents and self-important cousins, society whisperings and the fluttering hearts of young lovers. All of them have their own views and expectations of marriage, and Austen’s are the wisest of all.

Selected from the novels Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen.

VINTAGE MINIS: GREAT MINDS. BIG IDEAS. LITTLE BOOKS.

A series of short books by the world’s greatest writers on the experiences that make us human

Charles Dickens' best-loved books

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Choose 3 classics for £33

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