Edward Gorey on Cape Cod

In my opinion the high point of television as a medium—even an artform—was the British detective programming of the 1980s through the mid-1990s. I am thinking obviously of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and Poirot with David Suchet, but also programs that ran for only one or two series like Campion with Peter Davison and A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery with Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter.

In the United States these programs were broadcast on public television as part of the Mystery! anthology produced by WGBH in Boston. The episodes were introduced in a wrap-around segment by host Vincent Prince, and later Diana Rigg. Anyone who watched Mystery!—especially if they were growing at the time, like me—will inevitably remember the opening credit sequence designed by illustrator Edward Gorey.

At the time that Mystery! premiered in 1980 Gorey was coming off of his greatest commercial success, the 1977 Broadway revival of Dracula, which he designed. (I was born three days after it closed in 1980, but my parents saw it.) 

In 1979 Gorey bought a 200-year old sea captain’s home in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. He had been living in Manhattan where he attended every single performance of the New York City Ballet. After the death of NYCB founder and choreographer George Balanchine in 1983, Gorey moved permanently to Cape Cod. He lived the last seventeen years of his life there and it remains a museum and gallery of his art.

His work on Mystery! is represented in a collection of storyboards and animation cells from the title sequence and a poster for the tenth anniversary in 1990. I think Joan Hickson and Edward Hardwicke appear surprisingly recognizable in the artist’s style.

The Edward Gorey House is open April through December at 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouth Port Common.

David Suchet at St Paul’s

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This past March I was privileged to attend a reading by David Suchet of the the Gospel According to Mark at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Suchet is one of my favorite actors. I have seen him several times on stage, on both sides of the Atlantic: as Salieri in Amadeus on Broadway and in Long Day’s Journey Into Night on the West End. For this occasion the audience had come to see him not only as a performer but as a witness to Christ, which he has been, humbly yet forcefully, for many years. A convert to the Church of England, Suchet speaks often about his faith, and uses his talent in the service of evangelism. He has recorded an eighty-hour audiobook of the NIV translation of the Bible, presented television documentaries on the Apostles Peter and Paul, and serves as a Vice-President of the Bible Society.

His reading of Mark’s Gospel was riveting. He drew out the urgency and immediacy of what may be the earliest of the four canonical gospels, written in the immediate aftermath of the events described. Afterward, I introduced myself to Suchet to thank him. As we spoke briefly he was hugged and congratulated by members of his own parish church who had come to support him, which I think gives a good impression of both the man and the wonderful mood of the evening.

All of this is a long way of coming to the point that St Paul’s has now put a recording of the event on YouTube. I highly recommend that you watch it.