Saturday, March 11, 2006

‘THE POISON MAKER’ by John Symonds

John Symonds, who is ninety one, claims the play is based on a true story. He was the editor of the literary magazine Lilliput, knew George Orwell and was the lover of Peggy Ramsey, Joe Orton's literary agent. He has written over forty volumes of plays, essays and children's books and is best known for being Aleister Crowley's literary executor and author of the Great Beast. The biography was the first to draw attention to Crowley and has caused much controversy ever since. Those looking for occult subtexts in the play will not be entirely disappointed. Florence, for one, dreams of snakes, curtsies to the pear tree in the garden and frequently employs the tarot (the pack of Thoth, as it happens, though perhaps not too much should be read into this). Though antiquated in style, The Poison-Maker is highly unusual. Anyone wanting a glimpse of the eccentric upper-class milieu that both Crowley and Symonds moved in should check it out.

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