Bond is Back by Cally Phillips

BOND IS BACK…  A SPECIAL REVIEW TO MARK THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOND FRANCHISE AND THE OPENING OF THE LATEST BOND FILM SKYFALL… if you can’t get to the cinema, you could do worse than read this ebook. 

As the proud possessor of a degree in drama (first class honours, since you ask), I must confess to a house completely bursting at the seams with playscripts. (Or even plays, if we’re talking about classics. No one ever called King Lear an interesting little script as far as I can imagine). And as a long, long, long ex drama student, that begs the question, why?

I only pose it because the ebook I’m reviewing is a playscript. Which is an interesting concept, in a way. As an ebook it does not, in fact, exist, and in real life, it has never existed in the form intended for it. That is, written to mark the fortieth anniversary of the James Bond film franchise, it never actually got performed. Now the franchise is fifty, but the play is set around a fortieth birthday party of a James Bond nut and his equally demented friends and lovers. You’d presumably have to be a bit mad yourself to put it on now. Wouldn’t you?

Imagine the rejection letter from, let’s say, the National or the RSC. ‘Dear Ms Phillips, I was fascinated to read your script, which I found very stimulating and amusing, and which raised all sorts of philosophical questions. And now…er…er…er. What exactly do you expect me to do with it?

It would, indeed, be cheap and easy to put on. With a cast of six – seven at a pinch, but that’s part of the joke – a minimal and flexible set, and a lot of James Bond gear that can be run up or hired ad lib, production budgets would not be broken. There is an Aston Martin DB5 (or DBS, I never graduated on nerdiness mesen) but it remains conveniently off stage, and all the booze that gets swilled can be coloured water, I imagine.)

Cheap and simple, then – but none the worse for that. The occasion is Kevin’s fortieth, and all his friends foregather for a celebration of their shared obsession. There are several Bonds, a Miss Moneypenny, an obligatory brainless bimbo (called Bo), and a preplanned quiz. As entertainments go, it seems destined to bomb. And boy, does it ever.

The gang, you see, although they picked up their shared obsession aged eleven, are now beaten and world weary. Sex has been an issue throughout their mutual lives, with partners changed, love pledges broken, and adulteries adulterated. The most unpleasant of the gang, a dirty blond (in Ms Phillips’s SD) called Gary, makes it a rule to screw someone at every reunion party, and is determined this time to screw Moneypenny, the birthday boy’s lawful wedded wife. These machinations, and others, are at once funny and serious. The Bond boys and girls are shimmying around a very deep abyss

As a commentary on the vapidity and heartlessness of the James Bond world it hits the spot completely. We all know now what a weird and murky sex life Ian Fleming had, and his attitude to women in real life is well reflected in the females he ‘created.’ But while not a farce, this work has the potential to be very funny as a play, and is a ‘page turner’ as an ebook.

It can’t go on my shelves to join the ranks of plays and playscripts, but I’m glad to give it house room on my Kindle. It’s very worth a read.

And if you’re looking for James Bond facts to win kudos in a pub quiz sometime – you can’t go wrong with this, assuming Cally didn’t make them all up. To be honest, I wouldn’t have a clue. But she’s not that sort of woman, I don’t think!

Reviewed by Jan Needle

Available in Kindle and epub formats

Find out more about Cally Phillips 

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