Curtain up again at Westacre with Alan Bennett hit monologues

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Four of Alan Bennett’s popular monologues in his Talking Heads series are to be staged at Westacre Theatre in the coming weeks.

It opens next week with a double bill, “A Chip in the Sugar” and “Bed Among the Lentils”, followed in April by “A Lady of Letters” and “A Cream Cracker under the Settee”.

Talking Heads was originally written for BBC television with Bennett focusing on those on the margins of society.

Initially designed to work best through the intimacy of the television in the corner at home, the plays subsequently evolved into being performed in the much more public arena of the theatre stage.

The style of speech by the characters mimics that of everyday conversation – by mixing tenses, for example. Perhaps that makes it easier for audiences to identify with the ordinary folk being portrayed who are grappling with dilemmas and disasters.

Although being a script for one voice, each play is populated with additional graphic personae so powerful that several years later television audiences sometimes erroneously recall actually seeing these ‘off-screen’ characters.

Bennett’s trademark juxtapositioning of heartbreak with hilarity means that a certain concentration span is needed if you are to allow yourself to be fully drawn into the catastrophic melange of humour and pathos.

The first performances – in fact the first major in-house productions of the year – are on Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6, with Westacre’s Andy Naylor portrayal of Graham Whittaker in “A Chip in the Sugar”.

Still living at home with mother, middle-aged Graham finds life becoming complicated as she re-unites with an old flame.

In “Bed Among the Lentils” the well-known Issy Huckle fulfils the role of Susan, the nervous vicar’s wife, discovering something about herself and God.

There are two further performances on Friday and Saturday, February 19 and 20.

April sees Westacre presenting “A Lady of Letters” and “A Cream Cracker under the Settee” on Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9, then again the following week on Friday 15 and Saturday 16.

All the performances start at 7.30pm; tickets are £16, under 21s £12. Pre-show suppers can also be booked.

Full details of the shows and suppers starting are on www.westacretheatre.com or you can call the box office on 01760 755800.