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It's good to talk in Alan Bennett's classic monologues

PUBLISHED: 09:28 10 July 2012

Rehearsals for Alan Bennett's Talking Heads

Rehearsals for Alan Bennett's Talking Heads

Archant

Yorkshire charm and character are celebrated in Alan Bennett's classic monologues Talking Heads being staged in Norwich this week. SIMON PARKIN reports.

The work of national treasure — the British playwright Alan Bennett – will be celebrated next week by the Norwich Theatre Royal Studio Company.

Director David Lambert is paying tribute to one of his creative idols by bringing some of Bennett’s world famous monologues Talking Heads to The Garage.

It will see David follow in the footsteps of Bennett by starring himself in A Chip In The Sugar. This monologue follows Graham’s difficult relationship with his mother as he grows increasingly jealous of her constant mentions of her new lover Mr Turnbull.

Also on stage will be A Lady of Letters, featuring busy-body Mrs Ruddock, a character originally taken on by evergreen actress Patricia Routledge and now played by Studio Company regular actress Mandy Kiley. The piece follows the character’s attempts to rid the community of social ills through a letter writing campaign.

Completing the trio will be Her Big Chance, a part formerly played by Harry Potter and Calendar Girls actress Julie Walters, and which will be taken on in Norwich by Naomi Miller. It follows deluded aspiring actress Lesley who lands a film role which she believes will make her famous, but it turns out that it is not quite the road to stardom she was hoping for.

The legendary Yorkshire-based writer immortalized the likes of an alcoholic vicar’s wife, an antiques dealer and a Meals on Wheels volunteer in his celebrated monologues, first broadcast in 1988.

The quality of Bennett’s writing and reputation attracted a stellar line up of actors and actresses including Dame Maggie Smith, Stephanie Cole and Sir Ian McKellen. And his plays were deemed so important they were incorporated into the A-level and GCSE English Literature syllabus.

David Lambert believes these plays are a crucial part of British literature not just for English students, but for the wider public.

“Well, they are just fabulous. They are beautifully written like all of Alan Bennett’s work is and his observations of characters are so truthful, so you get humour and sadness at the same time,” he says.

This Theatre Royal Studio Company production at The Garage will be staged in a non-conventional cabaret style. The audience will be able to have a drink whilst watching. “You will really feel part of an evening out as you’ll not only be able to see the actors on stage, but you’ll be able to see your other audience members as well,” says Naomi.

David adds: “These three characters are all so real, so believable and very touching. Audiences will laugh one minute and cry the next. It should be a jolly good evening at the theatre.”

■ Talking Heads, The Garage, Chapelfield North, Norwich, July 12-14, £8 (£6.50 cons), 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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