In this extraordinary piece all of John Cowper Powys’ eccentric and wild inventiveness is on display.In a small flat in New York in the 1920s an old couple, former circus performers, live a crotchety life of poverty and fear. The ones they fear are ‘the Authorities’, their name for the cruel and unthinking denizens of the outside world who want to put them into a home.But living with them in their tiny flat are many more presences than they suspect. Powys peoples their world with a gravely philosophical stuffed owl, an overly amorous china duck, a rude and fatalistic glass fish, a pair of tiny Asian god statues, a tenderly romantic doll, and a sadly dilapidated wooden horse, all of whom see the Known World (as they call the flat) in a biased way according to their super-individual visions.Flitting through this busy roomscape are also less substantial beings: two wispy, half-created characters from the unfinished historical romance novel of a long-ago tenant, and, most importantly, the terribly thin and vaporous ghost of the kind old lady who had the flat before the old couple. Her extraordinary kindness could be the key to saving the old couple from the Authorities – can the ghost of Miss Rowe save the day?With a saucy combination of ghoulishness and bouncing enthusiasm John Cowper Powys revels here in unbounded invention, creating a short masterpiece of great eccentricity and capacious fantasy.
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