January 08

A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Samson

Because overseas travel is still rather iffy right now, for those of us desperately longing for a sun-drenched jaunt to Greece, here’s some good news. Reading A Theatre for Dreamers you can almost feel the sun on your skin, hear the lapping of turquoise water on the pebbled shore and taste the sticky ouzo.

Truly …. and I did say almost.

A Theatre for Dreamers is a blissful piece of escapism set in the 60s on the hypnotic Greek Island of Hydra where the world is on the brink of revolution. Poets, painters and musicians live a wildly bohemian existence and are tended to by the king and queen of hedonism, writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston.

And enter stage right, a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen who enthralls them all, especially a young woman Marianne. Cue song.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica who has escaped England after the loss of her mother and towing a questionable boyfriend and a trunk of notebooks. Charmian Clift was her mother’s friend so she is welcomed into her fray and settles on the periphery of the circle and watches, entranced and mesmerised.

Hydra’s carefree, hypnotic ways quickly absorb Erica and she falls into a pleasure-filled days of art, music, poetry, bed hopping, drinking, drugs and cavalier living. The days are hot and long, the affairs are hot and short.

Reading this, you are swept away especially if you’ve been to the Greek Islands and you can picture yourself against the white walls smelling the lemon and tanning oil in the air. It’s a sultry account of halcyon days and it is so, so beautifully written. You’re there at the kitchen table with Erica, Leonard, Charmian – just without the regrets and massive hangovers.

Of course, it all has to end and it does. The world sucks everyone off the island eventually. That’s life and how else would the artists, poets and musicians express their angst right?

Read this if you want an escape from life, from COVID and this relentless rain. Read this is you want to be transported and enchanted because my two cents Readheads, is this is exactly the sort of ‘get me out of here’ book we all need right now.