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Whenever I see or hear a version of The Forsyte Saga, I always feel sorry for Soames.
The much-maligned Soames Forsyte is the character that we are supposed to loathe, as most of the characters in the story do. But I can't. I much prefer him to his smug, watercolour painting cousin, Jolien. Or Jolien's useless windbag daughter, June. Or Irene, the unforgiving hypocrite who married him. Soames and his daughter Fleur have more spunk and personality than the rest of the Forsytes put together. And this story is redeemed by them.
The male voices in this production are wonderful. At times when people die, the dialogue is very moving and is beautifully performed. I actually cried. Twice.
As usual, a couple of the female voices let the show down. The oft referred to as beautiful character of Irene is voiced in a dull, low monotone in the mistaken belief that it makes her sound beautiful and ladylike. But she just sounds like a creepy bore devoid of personality or humour. The character of soames 2nd wife, being french, is also voiced wrongly. She sounds like an imbecilic five year old. Poor Soames, if only he could get a wife who could speak like a norman woman. But i'm particularly sensitive to these voice traits, so don't let it deter you from the production. On the whole, it is beautifully done, with love, care and affection by the actors and the producers.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I don't know who directed this production, but they must have been going through a bad time in their life because some of the characterization in this series is really over the top. Half the characters speak their internal monologues as though they're Hamlet: Low, dramatic voices with lots of heavy breathing, and there are frequent sound effects of crying children and screaming women (to emphasize the tragic bits).
I've read the Forsyte books and I know they're supposed to be fairly serious, but I feel confident they weren't supposed to be this fraught.
The narrator is good (Michael Hordern, famous for being Jeeves in BBC radio series, among other roles) and the characters who aren't acting like they're having nervous breakdowns are pretty good. And of course the story itself is quite interesting.
I have a feeling that this production was done in the 1970s, when BBC radio actors still took themselves very, very seriously, and no radio show was immune from Acting with a capital A. (There's a weird version of Dorothy Sayers 'The Nine Tailors' which has the same problem - the book is supposed to be funny, but the radio drama comes off as High Drama and Major Tragedy.)
So if you like your radio shows with a nice dose of Macbethian craziness and a fair amount of weeping and wailing, you'll like this. Otherwise, you may find yourself rolling your eyes a lot.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
I remember, as a child, watching the Greek Tragedy of the Forsyte Saga unfold over many evenings. I didn't appreciate the complexities in those days. I've since watched both the original series and the newer one before deciding the read the books. This BBC radio rendition of the books is so true to the origin. I've laughed with George and Darty cried with Irene and brooded, menacingly with Soames. The deaths of old Jolyon, Balthazar, young Joly and young Jolyon affected me greatly. And through it all, Soames lurks, casting a shadow and destroying himself...
Well worth the listen. Highly recommended and worthy of five stars.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Much darker than the 60s drama. I wish I had read/listened to the book before I bought the drama series. The actors from the drama filled my imagination as oppose to embarking upon the story as a blank canvas. I found myself completely engrossed in this novel and the extreme stances that the characters took made more sense after absorbing the book as oppose to watching the drama. The TV series was watered down to suite the audience and the time. This book strongly recommended!
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Forsyte Saga (Dramatised) the most enjoyable?
The actors playing the different parts where just so engaging.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Jolien is my favourite character. He is the centre of the family and tries his best to keep harmony.
Any additional comments?
One of the best radio dramas I have heard. Set over a few generations going back to the late 1800's.
With so many actors it is easy to keep track of the different characters. There is love, betrayal, a villian or two, suspense and you may even need a hanky, all good things you could want in a great drama