30 May 2014

Listening to Laurie...and Jo

I've been listening to a BBC radio adaptation of Little Women today. Gayle Hunnicutt plays Marmee, Jemma Redgrave is Meg, and Buffy Davis is a lively, hearty Jo. Because of the total running time (about five and a half hours), they can do so much more, like showing them playing games at Laurie's picnic. Laurie is played by Marcus D'Amico and sounds like a real boy for once, but the actor playing Ned Moffat has such a funny voice; he sounds like John DeLancie overlaid with Bertie Wooster. I'm also particularly fond of how they handle the transitional "since last we met" portion of the opening chapter of part II (or Good Wives, as the British call the second part of Little Women): instead of a summary by the announcer, Jo runs into Miss Crocker, the spinster lady the girls entertain in the novel chapter "Experiments," and "catches her up" with the March family. I'm enjoying it so much, but I have to smile when they talk "American," for they try so hard that sometimes they wander into a Southern accent, especially Ms. Davis and the actress who plays Beth.

I think it's funny that most non-US productions of Little Women cast Hannah as African-American. It's not that I object--Hannah really could be of any race or nationality--but it seems that to the casting people it's natural for the servant at that time to be a person of color, and the result is so stereotypical! The radio Hannah is all "laws'a'mercy" and sings spirituals, and in the Japanese anime Hannah has a mammy look. It's a bit disconcerting.

I do think it's interesting that they use "Simple Gifts" as a musical motif throughout. It works very well, along with the vintage hymns.

No comments: