Nothing but time separates the segments, since they consist of a nonstop recitation, moments deliciously out of focus alternating with others that are brutally rational, about the events of Dinesen’s life.
Mainly, there’s her time in Africa, where she was brought by her unloved husband, the Baron Bror Blixen, to help run a coffee farm in Kenya that eventually failed. Neither Dinesen nor Harris seems in danger of running out of breath as the narrative hurtles onward.
Harris manages an endearing all-purpose European accent that dips toward an Irish brogue at times. Nothing — not age, nor Dinesen’s heavy overlay of kohl — can dim the flirtatious eyes Harris has flashed over nearly half a century of superior performances.
Stuffed into Brian Savegar’s claustrophobic sets like a bonbon in a Godiva gift box, coddled in Charles Gross’ genteel score with its frequent borrowings from Schubert and Tchaikovsky, she casts an unmistakable gleam.
There are exasperating moments in Dinesen’s unstoppable flood of reminiscence as “one of God’s chosen snobs”; as much of it is peevish as loving. Something about the urgency of Harris’ delivery makes you want to hear her out.