Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I encouraged everyone to fall asleep to the voice of Stephen Fry. Tina enjoyed the second book in the Ann Cleeves mystery series set in the Shetland Islands, White Nights. Jean wants to talk about the usage of ‘dude’ after reading That’s Not English. Gaele enjoyed The Age of Misadventure, a family drama with lots of laughs, more than the WWII home front story, We Must Be Brave.
Tea With the Dames, initially released as Nothing Like a Dame in the UK, spends a country weekend with actors Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith. Each of these women are entitled to use the honorific “dame,” having received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for contributions to the arts. This documentary begins with a narrator explaining that these four women get together frequently, but that this is the first time they let cameras in. You’re quickly disabused from the notion that this will be a secret eavesdropping. We watch an artist touch up make-up, a director position the actors, and a camera roll past another camera. The audience and the actors are always aware of the cameras.
It’s all a bit awkward, but in a delightful way.
There were moments when I wished I could ask a question, because I noticed missed opportunities for deeper conversation. I couldn’t help wondering if a mature woman director would have orchestrated a completely different and, possibly, more interesting interaction between the actors.
I loved seeing the rare footage of these women acting on stage. All four of them began their careers as stage actors. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of what it would it have been like to be a London theater-goer in the middle of the 20th century.
If you’re a fan of any one of these actors, are all four, Tea With the Dames makes for a wonderful night at home.