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My brief encounter with Celia Johnson. By Gyles Brandreth

Blog | By Gyles Brandreth | Mar 06, 2024

Simon Williams, Celia Johnson & Lucy Fleming

On my one day off this month, I went to see somebody else’s show. You must catch it if ever it comes to a theatre near you.

Called Posting Letters to the Moon, it consists simply of edited highlights from the wartime correspondence between Brief Encounter star Celia Johnson and her writer-explorer husband, Peter Fleming, read by their actress daughter Lucy Fleming and her husband Simon Williams. The show is funny, touching, revealing, evocative, beautifully constructed and played with an easy charm that I found totally captivating.

I sent a text to Simon Williams to say as much and he rewarded me an anecdote that I could not believe I hadn’t heard before. Hellraiser Richard Harris spotted his friend Peter O’Toole sitting in the corner of a pub, not at all sober. Said Harris, ‘I thought you’d joined Alcoholics Anonymous.’ ‘I did,’ O’Toole replied. ‘I’m drinking under an assumed name.’

Posting Letters to the Moon is at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, on 8 and 9 March