reviewed by Paul Davies
Alan Bennett says that his device of having two actors playing him “isn’t just theatrical showing off.” -Self-deprication is totally ingrained in some Englishmen!
Not that I would take-away the recognition of a great idea superbly executed. It’s not the only different device in this play: The revelation of the set, the introduction of characters, the breaking of the fourth wall, all these and more make for an interesting and unique piece.
There’s a lot to like: Tim Edhouse’s perfect Bennett accent and characterisation sets the scene superbly. Lee Cook playing the younger Bennett echoes many of the same traits. Both actors are confident and comfortable and the device is totally sold! Jill Morrell as Miss Shepherd is an actor who may have got hold of her perfect role. She’s occasionally remenicent of Eric Idle, (“What did the nuns ever do for you?”)
There can be many different pointers to good theatre, but one of the most certain is the audience reaction. When you’re getting more than applause, when you’re getting Oohs Aahhs and Yucks you can be sure it’s right.
Bennett’s voice is gentle and has a naturally slow delivery and permeates the whole of the piece, there is a temptation to take on a slower pace because, I suspect, of this. If everyone’s aware of it, it can be mitigated.
Dave Simms’ confidence as a director in his ability and that of all his players shines out from Stirling’s stage. The whole cast and crew here should be congratulated.