Just William - Live by Richmal Crompton, performed by Martin Jarvis

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Just William - Live! by Richmal Crompton on BBC Radio 4 Extra

BBC Radio 4 Extra, 30 December 2012
Performed live by Martin Jarvis at the Best of British Festival at the Theatre Royal, Winchester, William Holds the Stage is a comic tale of an old boy returning to his school to give a lecture on Hamlet.  Unfortunately he reckons without the interruptions of William Brown, who becomes convinced that Shakespeare's plays were written by a man called Ham, while two other protagonists - Bacon and Eggs - were also involved somehow.
Eventually William becomes involved in a theatrical performance of a scene from Hamlet, where he is due to play an attendant.  However things do not go according to plan, and the mischievous eleven-year-old ends up delivering a comic version of the "To Be or Not To Be" speech, much to the chagrin of his mother and his fellow-learners - although the rest of the audience love it.
Richmal Crompton's tale aims some predictable barbs at pretentious actors and pseudo-celebrities who are more interested in themselves than their audiences.  William Brown offers commonsense criticisms of the actor; at the same time, Crompton had a unique insight into his childlike mind.  He never means to cause mayhem; it just happens.
Martin Jarvis clearly enjoyed himself playing all the roles in this dramatized reading of the story - even though I felt at some times that he was simply reprising his P. G. Wodehouse routine.  Now there's a thought: William Brown playing Bertie Wooster ....