Publishers Weekly
December 14, 1998. p.26

Thomas Hardy's famous novel does not come to mind when one considers source material for children's video. But this stage adaptation, performed by the British theater troupe SNAP People's Theatre Trust and videotaped in London, makes Hardy's work accessible for sophisticated young viewers and their families. No watered-down version of the book, the production retains the flavor, themes and essential elements of Hardy's writing. As an introduction, professor Elizabeth McNamer and 12-year old Preston Blakely [sic] discuss Hardy's life and career and the key themes of the novel while visiting the author's childhood home. On stage, the tale of Victorian Era farm woman Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors crackles with life. The deft performers tackle at least two roles each, and they pepper their scenes with occasional singing and bits of clever, explanatory narration. The drama simmers as Bathsheba marries the wrong man and eventually learns difficult lessons in love; teenagers will be especially captivated by this aspect. The fast-paced, overlapping dialogue in the early scenes requires a bit of patience, but this title is worth the effort. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

May 1999

This lengthy British production will surely try some kids' patience, but those who stick with itparticularly children interested in theatrewill be richly rewarded. Four young actors, who play a total of nine roles, demonstrate protean skills through a range of dialects and characterizations, in what turns out to be a galvanizing production of the Thomas Hardy novel. The cast captures all the drama and passion of the story about a young woman pursued by three very different men. Grade: A
Jeff Unger

Video Librarian
September/October, 1998. p.3
R. Pitman
(1998) 133 min. Globalstage Productions, PPR.
Color cover.

And now for something completely different: Globalstage Productions' Far From the Madding Crowd filmed on location in London, and introduced by Professor Elizabeth McNamer and her young charge Preston Blakeley, offers four players tackling nine roles. Not only do these spirited thespians do the novel justice, they also lend a sense of levity to the tale that could only occur on stage in front of a live audience (I especially liked the touch of having a corpse get up and walk to her coffin, since the other players weren’t going to lift her.) Earthy songs, theatrical jokes, and clever interaction with the audience all add to the fun, while Hardy’s basic story and characters are faithfully rendered. Recommended. Aud: H, C, P.