The Animals Podcast tells the love story of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy through the eyes of a woman who could not resist reading their mail. Isherwood was an established writer when he met the eighteen-year-old Bachardy on the beach in Santa Monica in 1952. They spent the next three decades together, at the heart of the international creative community that was making the films, ballets, plays, books, and paintings of their era in Los Angeles, New York, and London. Their letters, written during periods apart, reveal their extraordinary devotion to one another and the tests their bond survived — public, professional tests as well as private, sexual and emotional ones. Acclaimed actors Simon Callow and Alan Cumming and writer and scholar Katherine Bucknell bring the letters to life in eight podcast episodes.
The series culminates with a performance of A Meeting by the River, Isherwood’s novel inspired by his conversion to Vedanta, a novel which he and Bachardy adapted together for the stage. Two brothers meet, after long separation, at a monastery in India. One is about to take vows as a Hindu monk; the other is out to stop him. Dominic West stars as the worldly, charming, bisexual elder brother; Kyle Soller as the heedlessly spiritual younger one. Penelope Wilton plays their mother; Annabel Mullion is the woman they both love. Fifty years after Isherwood and Bachardy offered him A Meeting by the River for the Royal Court Theatre in 1968, Anthony Page at last directs it in this audio version.
In listening to their letters, we bear witness to this animal endurance — a survival of the fittest love — one sure to leave us yearning for our own creaturely connections.