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Book Review: “MY OLD LADY” Complete Stage Play and Screenplay with an Essay on Adaptation” by Israel Horovitz ★★★★★


Israel Horovitz – Photo by Jason Grow, Gloucester MA


Complete Stage Play and Screenplay with an Essay on Adaptation

By Israel Horovitz

Three Rooms Press

Trade Paperback Original | Performing Arts | Screenplays | 334 pp. | $16.99 978-1-941110-36-2 (trade paper) • 978-1-941110-37-9 (ebook)

Publication date: March 1, 2016

When the first time I watched Israel Horovitz’s “My Old Lady” starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas, I found myself amazed by its intelligently written lines. Yes, that’s correct. If I put aside the plot and the performance the entire cast delivered, it’s the dialogues that will be remembered afterwards. It’s no surprise that Maggie Smith would not have considered herself to be a part of any film if the lines written for her make no sense. Moreover, it has to contain a certain message, or perhaps, a life-teaching quote, that we as the audience can learn from her character.

This is why reading Israel Horovitz’s upcoming book, My Old Lady: Complete Stage Play and Screenplay with an Essay on Adaptation can bring you a whole different experience, that in no way could have been translated onto the big screen. Horovitz`s complete stage play and screenplay must be read by every aspiring screenwriter or filmmaker.  “My Old Lady” follows a 92-year-old Mathilde, who lives in an enormous house in the heart of Paris with her daughter, Cloe. One day, an eccentric writer and completely unfortunate man, Mathias travels to sell the house he inherited from his father. However, upon his arrival he finds out that the house is ‘en viager’, meaning he won’t be able to do anything with the house until an old lady dies.

Mathias, who hoped to solve his financial troubles, realizes that it won’t be so easy to get rid of Mathilde. But shortly after, when he eliminates the wall between him and Mathilde, he finds her as quite a charming lady with a huge past, where his father was involved. When Cloe, Mathilde’s daughter comes to the picture, Mathias starts experiencing romantic feelings towards her. However, the painful past, and the questions he suddenly found answered holds him back, until he finds a way to kill the demons hidden inside his head.

The best part of Israel Horovitz’s book is the complete stage play, where as you read it, find yourself totally drawn into it. You not only will find it difficult to put the book away for a second, but will be struck the way each scene is being described. Especially if you’re a playwright, or want to become one, Israel Horovitz’s book can be used as a great reference. Once you reach the end of stage play, you find the story itself being exposed from a whole different perspective, from the film point of view. Of course, the biting dialogues won’t allow you to rest, as they are in almost every line considering the funny approach of the story with the element of drama. Even the essay on how Horovitz started building the idea of My Old Lady is something that gives you food for thought.

In conclusion, Horovitz’s book could be a great addition to your collection, or can use it as a study material for screenplay/stage writing purposes, as it truly gives what you need in order to benefit from it fully. It is a must-read book for novice screenwriters and filmmakers, if they want to learn how to write a great and well-structured story. But in order to be able to compare it with the film itself, you certainly must see how Kevin Kline and Dame Maggie Smith nail every line, while the movie itself gives you everything that’s required to please your Friday evening.

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