Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Elizabeth Hobbs "The Old, Old, Very Old Man" (2007)

It is 1635. Charles I is feeling rather old, enfeebled, lacking in energy, out of sorts. Perhaps the visit of the world’s oldest man, 152 year old Thomas Parr, will revive him. Courtiers are despatched to persuade the old fellow to attend court. But Thomas has not reached an astonishingly ripe old age beholden to every Tom, Dick or Harry and summarily rejects the appeal. Couriers, if they are to remain courtiers, are not so easily dissuaded however and eventually the old man is transported in his bed to court where his arrival is celebrated in great style, much to his eventual discomfiture. Elizabeth Hobbs has her own style that is as distinctive as it gets. The Old, Old, Very Old Man - negotiated via her Flash website (Films/Archive) - is drawn in blue ink on white tiles, relevant in that it was inspired by Delft pottery at the British Museum. The result is a combination of the most delicate drawings with a humorous tone that is both sharp and light, as exemplified in the reaction of the monarch as his guest does the human equivalent of the parrot dropping from the perch. Or the response of Thomas to the courtier's invitation to attend the palace: Posh voice: "You have been summoned to the court of King Charles." Thomas's reply as he sips his tea is a perfunctory one - "No!" Lest I forget, the explanation for the old old old man’s longevity is something like head cool, rise early, early to bed. Edward Fox provides the marvellous voices whilst Tim Olden recreates the music of the era. History and a treat. Lizzy was educated in Scotland and now lives in East London. As well as her freelance work she is a tutor at Anglia Ruskin University.

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