Review: Judi Dench: With a Crack in Her Voice

John Miller (1998)

After reading this biography of Dame Judi Dench I like her even more than I did before. If I were an aspiring actress, I’d want to grow up to be just like her. Not just because she’s a phenomenal actress, or because she has the admiration and respect of her peers, but because she has such a good time doing what she loves (and lives) to do. This book is filled with accounts of colleagues, from renowned British thespians to the Hollywood A-list, who love working with her because she brings so much to each performance and has such a great sense of humor.

You know that game where you choose who you’d invite to a dinner party, from any period of history? Well Judi would be at the top of my list.

Now, the book…while it’s quite readable and interesting, I’d really only recommend Judi Dench: With a Crack in Her Voice to people who already have an interest in Judi Dench. It also helps if you’ve seen many of the movies and made-for-TV programs she’s been in, and have some knowledge of plays and British actors who aren’t household names in this country. I have, so I continued to be interested throughout, but otherwise I could see this book being a real snooze. I found myself skimming all the parts that recapped what critics had to say about her various performances, because it’s just not interesting to read second-hand reviews of plays you haven’t heard of, nor will ever have a chance to see.

What definitely comes through in this biography is Judi Dench’s dedication to her craft and her tremendous sense of humor. She laughs a lot (on stage and off) and is fond of creating practical jokes,  running gags, and word games with colleagues to lighten the mood and keep things fun. The words “corpse” and “corpsing” are used a lot in this book. I had to look up a definition. Corpse is when an actor breaks character by laughing. When Dame Judi is in the house, there’s whole lotta corpsing going on. [***]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s