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Talking Heads

This week at Malvern Theatres they’ve been showing Talking Heads by Alan Bennett. I remember these monologues from when they were originally shown on the TV in the late eighties, so thought it was worth a punt for a standby ticket for the Saturday MatinĂ©e. The stalls were less than half full, so I was able to get a good seat at about half price.

The monologues are billed as comedies, but of a particularly black and twisted nature. There is an underlying theme of loneliness and alienation, with very cleverly observed characterisation. There were three acts, each a monologue with a single actor on stage. All three were excellent, really holding the audience’s interest. The sets were very sparse and simple, so there was very little to distract from the Talking Heads of the title.

The first act, A Lady of Letters, was the funniest. Siobhan Redmond was excellent as a nosy spinster with a penchant for writing letters of complaint, which gets her deeper and deeper into trouble. That one had quite an uplifting ending. The second act was A Chip in the Sugar, starring Karl Theobald whom I remember best as the hapless junior doctor on the Channel 4 comedy Green Wing. He played a devoted but mentally-ill son whose life unravelled when his mother met an old flame. That one was a bit circular, and ended up largely where it started. The final act starred Stephanie Cole in A Cream Cracker Under the Settee, in which she played a 75 year old widow who was obsessive about cleanliness and wanted to stay in her own home and not be shunted off into a residential home where everyone smells of pee. That one had a really sad ending which for me put a bit of a damper on the whole show. I’d have rather they were put on the the reverse order, starting with the saddest one and ending with the most uplifting. 

{ 1 } Comments

  1. David A | 30 August 2015 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    I mostly remember Bed Among The Lentils (Maggie Smith) from the TV originals:

    “If you think squash is competitive, you should try flower arranging…”