The Lady in the Van

s09theladyinthevangif.gifJay and I went to see The Lady in the Van, by Alan Bennett, produced by BAWDS at the ADC. It’s a great play, full of dry humour. We weren’t sure what to expect from an amateur production, but the three main leads were all excellent: Particularly the actor who played the older Alan Bennett (Barry Brown) and the actress that played Miss Shepherd (Rosemary Eason). Had a couple of pints of Sparta which was lovely and when we left at the end Michael was sitting in the perfect seat, drinking a half of Sparta, waiting to meet us!

From the ADC Web SIte:

The Lady In The Van is an autobiographical account of an episode in acclaimed playwright Alan Bennett’s life in 1974.   

Elderly and eccentric Miss Mary Shepherd is living in a decrepit van in a street near the author’s home in Camden Town. Allowing her to park her van in his front garden for three months, she ends up staying fifteen years.

The outrageous Miss Shepherd, a trained concert pianist, ex-nun, ex-ambulance driver and would-be Prime Minister, forces her benefactor to turn down the volume of his radiogram, recharge her van’s flat battery and become her reluctant carer.

The play offers two Alan Bennetts; one at the age of the portrayed events and an older, more sceptical individual, who is able to take a retrospective view to discuss with himself (the other Alan Bennett) the philosophical issues and true reasons for his kindness to Miss Shepherd. It may all sound complicated but it quickly becomes clear to provide a deliciously comic theatrical evening!


  • David

    I’m pleased you liked the play! I would say the play is good rather than great, as the problem with Bennett (as happens here) is that the writing can be self-consciously clever. This is mitigated by the self-conscious truth in the writing.

    The tale itself is a fascinating one of tolerant discomfiture, but perhaps its best expression is in book form?

    Nevertheless, I did enjoy the original London production – not least due to the great Maggie Smith in the title role, for once playing lower class. Not that she didn’t carry it off, but Maggie and I have even more fun when she is playing the upper strata.

    This will date the production (and me!) but Princess Margaret was sitting in the row in front a couple of seats to my right. At this stage she was rumoured to be wheel-chair bound, despite being able to walk. The woman I saw was perfectly lively.

    David Jason was spotted in the foyer after the production. Am I name dropping just a bit too much? 🙂

  • Graham

    Name dropper ! 🙂

    I’d love to have seen Maggie Smith in the title role on stage, or in any role on stage for that matter…