Follow Here To Purchase Rigby Shlept Here: A Memoir of Terence Rigby (1937-2008)

Author:Juliet Ace

Publisher:Country Setting U.K.



What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Just about everything, it seems, to motivate one, in this case Juliet Ace, to devote the time and attention needed to assemble a snowstorm of memories, letters, postcards, and transcripts into an account of the personal and professional life of an English character actor.

Given the less than “stellar” status of Terence Rigby as a “showbiz” personality, the question necessarily arises whether an account of his career, however lovingly motivated, can justify the attention of readers not familiar with either the man or the environment he inhabited during his long tenure on the boards and in front of film and television cameras.

Ms. Ace’s account of the actor is so larded with detail, unedited ramblings, and the relentless barrage of names of persons known to no one but their parents that even the most theatrically orientated readers will probably find themselves at sea most of the time.

Now, no one expects diary entries, casual letters, and nocturnal jottings to represent great writing. But in reproducing them, would the occasional paragraph be too great a violation of the original text? A certain amount of opacity can be expected from aficionados of Beckett and Pinter, as Rigby and Ace clearly were, but clarity, eloquence, and elegance surely have a place, too.

American readers will have a bit of fun and confusion dealing with British usage, and not just spelling variations. Without knowledge of same, the reader might be startled by:

There’s a photograph of Rigby from that time, brooding, fag in mouth…”

All these cavils aside, there is much to value in Ms. Ace’s work—the portrait of a fascinating contrarian who dedicated himself to his profession passionately and effectively. His independence and impatience with some modern theatrical conceits must surely on occasion have frustrated directors and his fellow actors, but it was his right to exercise. His focus on the work as a whole rather than his particular part was refreshing to hear about. I believe that really good playwrights, directors, and actors would love to have worked with him, notwithstanding his somewhat antisocial tendencies, which probably demonstrated more than anything else, social selectivity and the resources of solitude.

The plaque nailed into the author’s seminal kitchen table, “Rigby Shlept Here” could well have been supplemented by Kibitzed, Kvetched, and Noshed Here, for all those wondrous things happened there. Author Ace should be thanked for her meticulous account of them.