THIS is the autobiography of Tony Craven, one of the former artistic directors of Basingstoke’s Horseshoe Theatre Company.

He latterly moved to work as a television director and this book covers his career from its beginning in 1969 right up until 2008.

Full of stories and anecdotes about people, plays and places, this will be a great read for those who love to read gossip about actors and actresses and others associated with the production and presentation of stage plays and small screen series.

Between 1979 and 1982, Tony was artistic director of the Horseshoe Theatre Company which had its home in the Shrubbery – now sadly demolished – the former home of the Burberry family, in Cliddesden Road.
It is clear he really enjoyed his three years in the town and a number of people, some still in the borough, are mentioned fondly and positively.

He clearly made an important contribution to the theatre in Basingstoke as the town was developing in the early 1980s. He might be sad, though, that The Haymarket is not the creative, lively place it once was.

A lot of ground is covered and Tony clearly led an interesting and exciting life. But much of the book is quite superficial and, although he travelled extensively both in the UK and abroad and was present during many exciting and often dangerous international events, there is little depth or substance in what he says.

It jumps around a lot too, but what it may lack there, it more than makes up with his brief descriptions of the people he was working with, their strengths and weaknesses and characteristics and tales about who said and did what at places around the globe.

This will be a good addition to the reading lists and bookshelves of those who like to know about the world of an artistic director and a little local history too.

John Jones