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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
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Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:49 am    Post subject: Alan Bennett  Reply with quote

I found an interesting article last week about Alan Bennett which I thought readers here might like to see. It reassesses both his plays and prose to refute the rather cuddly image he has these days and see why this came about. I love the satirical sketches I hear about him which always seem to feature scones and 'as I said to Thora' but I've always felt he had a much sharper edge to him than that, and his social observation is far from cuddly.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2...t/12/alan-bennett-people-new-play


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yesterday I read People, Alan Bennett's latest play. I saw it at the National Theatre a couple of months ago, but wanted to revisit it because it's being broadcast live in cinemas this Thursday and I'm going to see a repeat screening next Monday afternoon. I thought I'd like to get to know better a play that on first impression seemed a bit of a mess, albeit an often very enjoyable one.

It tells the story of ageing beauty Dorothy Stacpoole, a down-on-her-uppers aristocrat who is obliged to sell off her South Yorkshire ancestral home - but to whom? The National Trust, who will let other people in, or a private consortium, who will keep them out? Dorothy lives with her dotty 'companion' Iris and is occasionally impinged upon by her unwelcome sister June, the Archdeacon of Huddersfield.

It's a play that has a lot to say about the absurdities of Englishness and of the heritage industry, and if sometimes the message gets lost there are at least several moments of agreeable clarity, not to mention a number of very good jokes. Perhaps a greater acquaintance of the play will help it to settle in my mind so that I appreciate why this bit goes here and that bit there. The first half of Act 2 involves the shooting of a porn film, and here I felt the humour was rather forced. Anyone who knows Alan Bennett will be used to his sauciness, but this section, entirely justifiable in terms of the plot of the play, feels (to me, at any rate) at odds with the bits that surround it, and detracts from the play's punchiness. Perhaps that feeling will disappear eventually. I suspect time will provide some resolution.

Certainly one can't quibble with the NT cast, whom I can barely wait to see again. Frances de la Tour, Linda Bassett and Selina Cadell as the central trio, plus support from the likes of Nicholas Le Prevost as the National Trust man and Miles Jupp as the consortium one. It's a delight to see them in action, regardless of the quality of the material.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am due to go and see this at the cinema on 1 April, and must admit it was the cast that swayed me, having heard other ambivalent responses to the play itself.  It is clearly entertaining enough for you to see it again, Chib, so that's encouraging!  My expectations are not the highest, given what you and others have said about the play itself, but Alan Bennett always seems to have something to offer, and as you say, the cast is wonderful.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also not really sure I've ever thought of him as cuddly - always seen an edge to him, in a good way, despite national treasure status.


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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie wrote:
It is clearly entertaining enough for you to see it again, Chib, so that's encouraging!

Yes, but you should bear in mind that I would pay good money to watch Alan Bennett read aloud from the Leeds telephone directory.


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chibiabos83 wrote:
Certainly one can't quibble with the NT cast, whom I can barely wait to see again. Frances de la Tour, Linda Bassett and Selina Cadell as the central trio, plus support from the likes of Nicholas Le Prevost as the National Trust man and Miles Jupp as the consortium one. It's a delight to see them in action, regardless of the quality of the material.

I saw this on Sunday and am still thinking about the sheer brilliance of the acting as a whole and the outstanding performance of Frances de la Tour. This was my first experience of a NT screening and will follow it up in July when The Audience with Helen Mirren is shown.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not a play but I am reading Alan Bennett's memoir/autobiography, A Life Like Other People's. I don't know if this has been discussed before or not - the search feature here is not the best.  You don't seem to be able to narrow the search by putting the quotation marks around the words.

I am about a third of the way through this, our book club book this month.  Have to be finished it by Wednesday.  It is not hard reading, though very interesting.  Up to this point he has focussed on his parents' marriage and his mother's depression.  She is hospitalised several times over eight years and his fasther makes a trip of two hours' driving every day while she is there to be with her during visiting hours.  I like his analysis of this and other things.  He does not follow the prevailing theory that electro-convulsive treatment is bad, but sees that it helped his mother.  And his comments about shyness (which both his parents were to a marked degree) were pertinent too.  He said both shyness and self-confidence "share a basic assumption" that everyone is looking at them, one wishing they weren't and the other thinking it is quite right.  I remember thinking that feeling shy and that everyone is looking at you (which I feel sometimes still) is a form of self-absorption.  I took photos of our historical society committee once and one women was very shy and wouldn't look at the camera with the result that when you look at the photo that is what stands out.  

I love books with these sort of insights.  One thing that intrigued and puzzled me is when he is talking about the modern form of hugging (which his family and mine didn't go in for).  He says,"Hugging had not achieved the currency of it did in the 80s and 90s when it often served to demonstrate that other loveless construct, caring."  I have considered this over the evening and thought it was a bit unfair.  But maybe I have misunderstood him.  I feel sure that my husband's caring nature stems from his love for his family members.


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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Alan Bennett's notion of the concept of 'caring' is a very specific thing, and its nuances are too complex for me to write anything vaguely insightful about it, especially given I've been drinking. But there may be a distinction to be drawn between caring as a characteristic and 'caring' as an act, i.e. being a 'carer' for someone, which may not betoken all that much care after all. There's a bit about caring in some versions of The Lady in the Van, here from the film version:

Miss Briscoe: She tells me you don't encourage her to get out and lead a
more purposeful life, and put obstacles in her way.

Alan Bennett: I don't encourage her to think she can become prime
minister. I do encourage her to try and get to the supermarket.

Miss Briscoe: Yes. A carer will often feel that...

Alan Bennett: Excuse me, may I stop you? Do not call me the carer. I am
not the carer. I hate caring. I hate the thought. I hate the word. I do not
care, and I do not care for. I am here, she is there. There is no caring.

Miss Briscoe: Alan, I'm sensing hostility again.


I don't remember much about 'A Life Like Other People's', but I have certainly read it as it's in his collection Untold Stories. I vaguely remember thinking the other parts of that book were more fun.



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