On November 25, 2016, John du Feu regaled the Circolo Berkeley with his songs. They were echoes of his life, handcrafted by a poet. In his remarks, all throwaway lines and self-belittling, he revealed, almost with apology, moments of a intriguing past. But he moved on quickly, clearly more interested in the present and the future. Two CDs had just come out with him on guitar, singing the words he’d written. He did, though, mention a memoir of his in manuscript that anyone interested could consult online if they wished.
The evening had been full of pleasure and surprise. But when John stood and said lines in ancient Greek, it was more than pleasant. It was a shock of delight, of genuine awe. The words were from the production of a compendium of Greek tragedies . The thrill of those minutes made a reading of the memoir in question a must.
John calls his chronicle of what mattered most to him, THEATRE BY STORM, with a subtitle to shake the dozy awake : How I survived theatre and went to heaven. The words are an enigma not only for the reader, but one John himself is still trying to unknot:
“Going into theatre was never my best idea - unfortunately, it was my only idea. It didn't make me rich or famous but then I would have been hopeless at that anyway. Theatre gave me a life and I gave it forty years - of which the first twelve were a unique experience bound to a particular time.“
For if there’s a thread in his 194 pages with photos, it’s his mixed feelings for what was his profession. As for heaven, it could be an obscure corner of Australia or Dante’s ‘Paradiso’--or why not a memory of Ernest Lubitsch’s 1943 Hollywood masterpiece, ‘Heaven Can Wait’? Applying for a place in hell, Don Ameche tells the Devil that though he has committed no crime, “My whole life was one continuous misdemeanor....Perhaps the best way to tell you the story of my life is to tell you about the women in my life”.