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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Courtenay pens Larkin tribute
Philip Larkin
Larkin was renowned for his controversial views
The works of poet Philip Larkin are to be brought to life later this year in a new play written by and starring veteran actor Tom Courtenay.

The one-man show, Pretending To Be Me, will be Courtenay's first piece of writing for the stage.

It will debut at Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse on 28 November.

Courtenay's script is based on Larkin's letters, interviews and diaries as well as his poetry.

When you look at Larkin's poetry, there is a tremendous sense of insight into the human condition.

Ian Brown, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Larkin, who died in 1985, attracted controversy during his lifetime for his opinions on women, ethnic minorities and the unemployed.

However, those working on Courtenay's project have said that it will show another side to Larkin, examining key events in his life and showing how they shaped his work.

"The piece brings out Larkin's humanity," said Ian Brown, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, "which, because he appeared to be curmudgeonly, is something which is often lost."

"When you do look at his poetry, there is a tremendous sense of feeling and insight into the human condition."

The play shows Larkin unpacking as he moves into his final home in Hull, and talking about a variety of topics from his parents to politics, as well as quoting from some of his most memorable poems.

Larkin's complex love life will not be covered. However, it will be the focus of another play, Larkin With Women, which will run at the Playhouse for a month from late September.

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and had his first poem, Ultimatum, published in The Listener magazine in 1940.
Tom Courtenay
Courtenay will focus on Larkin's "human side"

He spent much of his life working as a librarian at the University Of Hull, which is Courtenay's home town.

His poetry collections include The Less Deceived, published in 1955 and 1964's The Whitsun Weddings, which won him the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

His final collection, High Windows, debuted in 1974.

He was also well-known for his love of jazz music, and wrote monthly reviews for The Daily Telegraph.

A volume of his reviews, All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961-1968, was published in 1970.

Courtenay, meanwhile, will make his first appearance at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with Pretending To Be Me.

He has performed regularly at the Manchester Royal Exchange, and was one of the original cast members of the hit West End play Art.

Courtenay also recently starred in the films Whatever Happened To Harold Smith? and Last Orders.

See also:

06 Nov 01 | England
11 Jan 02 | England
01 May 02 | Review
20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
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