I’m very pleased to share this entertaining guest post from PI Paris who is imagining a dream cast for his recently published book Casting Off. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, though will do soon. You can read a wonderful review from Wendy at Little Bookness Lane. I have a copy of the book to give away so if Wendy’s review has made you want to read it, make sure you enter the giveaway by clicking on the link further down this page.
Casting Off has ‘film’ written all over it … OK, yes, I would say that wouldn’t I? But it did have a very visual beginning, starting as a 70-minute stage play before being written as a full-length novel. A film version would be rather nice.
The play revolves around the story of three elderly women in a Highland care home, who have to devise a way to raise money when new owners substantially increase the fees. Several people commented during its debut tour last autumn that Dame Maggie Smith would be the perfect ‘Miss Ross’. Well, she would. Quite perfect.
‘The retired headmistress was – it would be unfair to say ‘hard’ – rather ‘precise’. Indeed, she would not have been offended to be considered prim. Despite the consistently warm surroundings, a tweed skirt and stiff white blouse were almost trademarks, along with her large pearl necklace.’
However, there are deep waters to Miss Ross, indeed, very deep and secret as it turns out. Dorothy admits that although ‘some people might have thought she was slightly frosty … Underneath that apparently stern surface was the most loyal, steadfast and trustworthy person I have ever met.’ Ah, some actors are just made for a part. I wonder if she would be interested if I post her a copy of the novel!
But what about ‘soft and cuddly’ Dorothy? Much of the humour comes from her innocence. When, in desperation, the three women set up a sex line, Dorothy thinks that the first caller is talking about Tiddles, the care home’s cat. This leads her to inform the man that ‘it does have a tendency to wander.’
However, her innocence is also one of her great strengths, and it has a powerful influence over callers. Many end up apologising and then going on to talk openly about their problems, the men finding huge wisdom and understanding in the little old lady on the other end of the line.
Dame Judi Dench would be brilliant. Of course, she’s always brilliant, but in this part I could see her being even more so. I think she’s still acting, so that’s this character sorted.
The third person in the play is Joan, worldly-wise and often muttering one-liners that capture the reality with brutal accuracy. When the letter from the new owners arrives and Dorothy declares ‘For the first time in my life, I can understand why a woman might despair so much that she sells her body’
Joan replies, almost as an aside, ‘I think we would make more selling egg cosies.’
With two such strong actors already cast (at least in my dream team world!) Julie Walters stands out as the person I would most like to play Joan. As in the play, she is younger than the other two and has a natural talent for comedy.
Humour is a key thread throughout both the play and novel, although there are plenty of serious issues as well. The book, of course, includes many more characters, subplots and surprises than the drama and I must pick at least one actor for the main male role.
This is Walter, someone who would have at one time been referred to as ‘dapper’. For me, this has to be Sir Derek Jacobi. I’ve always admired him as an actor and he would fit the part so well … I can almost hear him speaking the words.
Casting Off was published by Black & White on 8th September in paperback and as an e-book. You can order a copy here Casting Off Black & White publishing have kindly offered a copy of the book for me to giveaway. Click the link below for your chance to win. You can enter up till midnight on Thursday 22nd September and the winner will be advised withing 24 hours.
From the back of the book
When the residents of a Highland care home discover that the new owners are about to substantially put up the fees, they know that dramatic action is called for. But what can a group of senior citizens possibly do against a big organisation? For Dorothy, the situation is serious. If she can t raise money she ll have to leave all her friends, like dear Miss Ross.
In protest, the residents barricade themselves into the lounge. However, their rebellion fails, so worldly-wise Joan suggests a most unusual way to cover the rise a very naughty chat line for men who want to talk to older women in a particular way ! As their lives take a series of unexpected turns, things get increasingly out of control …
Casting Off is a hilarious, poignant tale of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice and how it s never too late to try something new.