Monday, November 15, 2010

Beyond Harry Potter

I have no trouble confessing that I have never been a fan of either the books or movies about the adventures of Harry Potter.  Indeed, I was sufficiently impressed with the way in which Harold Bloom took on the novels during an interview with Ray Suarez on NewsHour back in 2002, that I appropriated his summary phrase as a title for one of my blog posts, “Just a Piece of Goo.”  I have therefore been interested in the way in which Daniel Radcliffe has been preparing himself for “life after Potter.”  Putting his stake in the ground with Equus was definitely a good way to make a firm move against type-casting;  but now he seems to be charting a course into the world of light entertainment.

This may turn out to be a good thing, because his idea of “light entertainment” seems to have more to do with wit than with easy gags.  Thus, he is down to play the leading role of J. Pierrepont Finch in a revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, with songs that remind us just how clever Abe Burrows could be in coming up with lyrics.  (I would hazard a guess that Bloom would take more pleasure from a single page out of any Oxford anthology of light verse than he would from any one of J. K. Rowling’s publications.  If Burrows has not yet been anthologized by the Oxford University Press, then his appearance in one of their volumes is long overdue.)  However, as Radcliffe revealed on a guest appearance on The Graham Norton Show, now available as a YouTube clip, his real hero is Tom Lehrer.  His delivery of “The Elements” was a bit clunky;  but he was bold enough to sing it without any musical accompaniment.  Perhaps he should apply the “social capital” of his influence to promote a revival of Tomfoolery!

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