The 33-year relationship between late Berlin Stories author Christopher Isherwood and portrait artist Don Bachardy is documented in a new literary podcast The Animals, which culminates this month in a two-part reading of a play the pair co-authored.
Bachardy and Isherwood—who were 30 years apart in age—met in 1953 and remained together until Isherwood’s death in 1986. The openly gay couple were seen as cultural pioneers during the conservative era of 1950s Hollywood.
Isherwood’s semi-autobiographical 1945 novel The Berlin Stories served as the source material for John Van Druten’s 1951 Broadway play I Am a Camera, which later inspired the groundbreaking 1966 Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret.
Alan Cumming (a 1998 Tony winner for Cabaret) and Simon Callow play Bachardy and Isherwood, respectively, in the eight-episode podcast based on love letters the couple wrote to one another.
The Animals concludes with two additional episodes that present both acts of A Meeting by the River, the rarely-seen 1968 stage adaptation of Isherwood’s final novel, which he and Bachardy co-wrote together. The reading of A Meeting by the River features Dominic West, Kyle Soller, Annabel Mullion and Penelope Wilton, under the direction of Anthony Page. Act I is available beginning July 7; the second act will drop July 14.
Preview the podcast below:
A Meeting by the River is set at a monastery in India, as two long-separated brothers reunite. One is preparing to take his vows as a Hindu monk, and the other hopes to stop him. The play saw a brief Broadway run in 1979, but has not been performed for the public in nearly 40 years.