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Each "Actor Speaks" CD focuses on an actor known for a science fiction role, with interviews and a selection of audio pieces displaying his or her talents. Volume 3 features Jacqueline Pearce, best known to sf fans for her role as Servalan in the BBC series Blake's 7. Other genre roles mentioned (briefly) on the CD are her appearances in Dr Who and Hammer Horror.
If you're not a particular fan of the actress herself, and are only buying the CD because of the Blake's 7 connection, you may be a little disappointed, as less than half the CD covers Blake's 7 material. If you're a fan of the actress, the CD is a must-have. The interview segments cover ground that many will not have heard before, and the performance segments display her range as an actress. Pearce is an excellent actress, and there are a couple of very nice pieces on this CD, including a reading of the short story "His Brother's Keeper", fantasy author Tanith Lee's retelling of a Greek myth. My personal favourite track was the monologue "Eyes Down", which in itself justified the price of the CD as far as I'm concerned.
The CD opens with a twenty minute interview by Mark Thompson of MJTV. Thompson is a professional video and CD producer, but is also an sf fan himself, and does an excellent job of gently nudging his interviewee to discuss the sort of things likely to be of interest to the intended audience of this CD. The interview is nominally about Servalan, but also wanders past gender politics past and present, society today, and different styles of acting.
Other interviews include a discussion of why she's a fan of ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev, reminiscences about various projects she's worked on with Mark Thompson, and how it feels to be coming up to sixty. My own favourite was the Nureyev piece, as Pearce conveys very well how attractive the man was. There's also a question and answer session using questions sent in by fans, mostly about Blake's 7 but also covering other topics. Some interesting information, and it's quite entertaining listening to the blunt refusal to answer a couple of them.
The CD also includes a range of performance pieces. The excerpts from various MJTV productions may or may not be of interest; even though they've been selected to be comprehensible to those who haven't heard the full piece, I found that I enjoyed the excerpt from a new Soldiers of Love episode far more than the excerpts from material I wasn't familiar with. The pieces recorded specifically for this CD display a range of styles; one poetry reading, one short story reading, and one monologue. All are good, but the "Eyes Down" monologue is outstanding, easily on a par with Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues. A bingo caller tells us about her life, using bingo patter for different numbers as the hook for each memory, slowly building to a heart-wrenching conclusion. Wonderful script, and a magnificent performance.
Good cover design, with a selection of photos on the inside that will be of interest to fans. And while it's not of much interest to me other than as a nice piece of art, I'm sure there are many who will appreciate the reproduction of the semi-nude painting by Richard Hansell which appears on the back cover.
In summary, the CD is exactly what it says - a chance to hear the actor speak, rather than being about a particular character. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in Jacqueline Pearce. The CD is available direct from MJTV at http://www.ghostlands.demon.co.uk/cd.htm and is also available for online purchase via a secure server at http://www.hermit.org/Blakes7/Merchant/Tapes/sol/Actor3.html
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© Copyright 2003 Jules Jones