Arundel Players stalwart Margaret Mason will be directing a triple bill by Alan Bennett – A Woman Of No Importance, Soldiering On and A Visit from Miss Prothero – at The Priory Playhouse Theatre in Arundel for six nights from June 5 to 10.
Margaret said: “Alan Bennett is always a popular choice as over the years audiences have come to enjoy and admire the insight he gives us into the lives of certain types of vulnerable characters and manages to bring out humour, although often very black.
“We try every year to put together a varied programme and this production is in complete contrast to the last play, When We Are Married, which had a cast of 15.
“For this triple bill I’m working with just four very talented and experienced actors who I’ve had the pleasure of working with before, Gill Lambourn, Brenda Hargraves, Liz Lawrence and Roger Booth.”
Patricia Routledge played the role of Peggy in A Woman Of No Importance on the TV in a piece generally regarded as within the Talking Heads canon. Gill Lambourn takes on the role of Peggy Schofield in the Arundel Players production.
Margaret explains: “In this monologue, Peggy is a woman who is struck down by a mystery illness. This changes her life from the comfortable niche she had carved out for herself at work. But she quickly assumes the role of Queen Bee in the hospital. Peggy is persistently cheerful but blind to the feelings of other people, and at heart, is terribly lonely.
“The script goes on to reveal that Peggy is not as popular with her former co-workers as she thought. Bennett manages to create a character that is both a moving and richly comic creation.”
In the second monologue, Soldiering On, the role of Muriel is played by Brenda Hargraves. Muriel is a strong woman and a pillar of the local community. Her stockbroker husband, Ralph, has recently died leaving her rather well-off, until her son Giles gets his hands on the money.
Margaret said: “In this moving piece, Muriel becomes neglected by Giles and no longer needed by her mentally-ill daughter, who she had looked after for so many years. Finding herself alone and poor we discover how Muriel has to adapt to her new life and ‘soldier on’.”
In A Visit From Miss Prothero, Liz Lawrence plays Miss Prothero and Roger Booth, the part of Mr Arthur Dodsworth, who has recently retired and lives alone, apart from his budgie and memories of his late wife, Winnie.
One afternoon Mr Dodsworth is sitting at home contemplating his peaceful retirement with quiet satisfaction, when Miss Prothero, his former secretary, rings the door bell and comes to ruin it all!
According to Margaret: “This is a beautifully crafted example of two very different characters. Mr Dodsworth has been very happy in his retirement, while Miss Prothero’s character is that of a brash, charmless woman who is fond of putting people down.
“We discover that she has come to call in order to update her old boss on all the changes that have taken place since he left the company. Mr Dodsworth is not really interested and Miss Prothero’s conversation puts a strain on his politeness and patience. Miss Prothero continues undeterred, as she has a bombshell she wants to drop into the conversation, which leaves Mr Dodswoth unsettled and anxious.
“Alan Bennett is such a prolific writer that deciding what to select was quite a challenge but I’m sure that our audiences will appreciate the wonderful characterisations and the depth of humour of all three of these pieces,” said Margaret.
Arundel Players’ production of A Triple Bill by Alan Bennett opens at the Priory Playhouse Theatre, London Road, Arundel, BN18 9FA, from June 5-10, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 and are available by calling the Arundel Players box office on 07523 417926 between 9am and 9pm daily. Alternatively go direct to www.ticketsource.co.uk/arundelplayers and follow the instructions.
For further information about Arundel Players and how to obtain priority booking and ticket discounts visit www.arundelplayers.org.uk.
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