Skios by Michael Frayn

This is the only novel I’ve read by Frayn which has somewhat disappointed me and I think I know why. It isn’t a novel. It’s a play, or more likely, it’s a screen play.

One of the very finest things Frayn does (and that is high praise indeed) is frantic farce. He does Fawlty Towers better than John Cleese did it. The human disposition for disaster is something he explores hilariously in Noises Off and again in Clockwise. Not for the first or last time I rue the ignorant critical reception this movie got. It made A Fish Called Wanda look like the made-for-Americans-trash it was and yet Clockwise was panned. After the hit and miss – if nonetheless cult – way in which Fawlty Towers just managed to fill up 30 minutes at a time, Clockwise did this hilariously for a sustained movie. That is truly amazing.

And this is what Skios is. I kept reminding myself as I read it ‘It’s a movie, it’s a movie, it’s a hysterically funny farce of a movie’. Well. I hope it becomes such, I imagine it deserves to be and that it is the millieu in which it will work.

Am I being too critical? Or too generous? I could stand corrected on either count.

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