Wednesday 29th March to Saturday 1st April 1995
Directed by Eileen Norris and Jacquie Penrose
If you enjoyed Habeas Corpus in July'94 these three short plays are another treat for Alan Bennett fans. The subject matter may be sombre (difficult old age, terminal illness, lonely retirement), but it is beautifully handled with Bennett's usual combination of compassion and wicked humour.
This play was first seen as a BBC2 'Play of the Week', in 1978 with Patricia Routledge as Miss Protheroe. After a lifetime of work and achievement, of which he is justly proud, Mr Dodsworth, now a widower, has retired to the apparently safe contentment of retirement, when he receives a visit from a former colleague. Miss Protheroe is paying his a visit to inform him of the computerisation of the firm. This is an early play of Alan Bennett's, but it reveals all his mastery of wit and perception of human vulnerability.
First show on BBC TV in 1982, this play has retrospectively become part of the 'Talking Heads' group of plays, for which Bennett is so well known. Peggy Schofield, clerical worker and self-described linchpin of her office, finds that when her strict regime is disrupted, her world crumbles around her. Her health deteriorates and she is rapidly spirited away to hospital, where she reconstructs her office routine, appropriating doctors, other hospital staff and patients as replacements for her co-workers. It is soon revealed, through hints that she has lost her job and her co-workers haven't bothered to visit, that she is not as popular and significant as she assumed.
This play was written in 1987 for television, as part of Bennett's first 'Talking Heads' series for the BBC. Mild, middle-aged Graham Whittaker (who we learn is a repressed homosexual with a history of mild mental health problems) finds life becoming complicated as his mother, with whom he still lives, reunites with an old flame named Frank Turnbull. Graham becomes increasingly jealous when Mr Turnbull takes an ever-growing hold on Mam, especially when Frank proposes marriage simultaneously suggesting Graham moves out of the house to a hostel. But Mr Turnbull is hiding a secret, and when Graham finds out he triumphantly confronts his mother with the information, restoring the status quo and his comfortable life but destroying her hopes of happiness in the process.
These one-act plays, were staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Miss Protheroe||Janet Simpson|
|Mr Dodsworth||Tony Doye|
|Margaret Schofield||Rosemary Sawyer|
|Graham Whittaker||Damon Wakelin|
|Stage Manager||Gemma Harding|
|Hair by||Joy Anderson|
Small Voices is one of Bench's occasional 'fringe' events - a production over and above our regular five. The fact that we are able to mount extra shows reflects the fact that the membership is growing and that there is increased energy to go with it.