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Talking Heads

Alan Bennett photo illustration

By Phoebe Greyson

 

Bennett’s ability to get under the skin of such withdrawn people and write about them with such empathy, compassion, and wry (often gallows) humor makes him not just a great writer but the definitive chronicler of a certain kind of English ordinariness, whose outwardly placid surface conceals inner turmoil as intense as anything displayed by the more emotionally articulate.

¾Michael Brooke, Screenonline

 

This week’s Playreaders brings us two more of Alan Bennett’s much celebrated Talking Heads, a series of dramatic monologues written for BBC television and first broadcast in 1988 and 1998. The series has been produced as a play at the West End Theatre in London, in Los Angeles, and in New York, as well as in part as a Masterpiece Theater production on PBS. It has become part of the standard reading syllabus for A levels in English public schools.

Bennett is an insightful, poignant writer with the ability to articulate—without emphasis or fanfare—the tragic, quietly desperate internal dialogue of seemingly ordinary people. His characters are mesmerizing in their intransigent refusal to perceive their circumstance as anything but business as usual. Everything is simply the way it is. Like the three-legged dog, they soldier on, failing to notice that something important is missing.

The two monologues chosen for this week’s production portray two more of Bennett’s women. The series features ten women (eleven, if you count “a Woman of No Importance”) and two men. The first piece, “Waiting for the Telegram,” is a wonderfully touching and funny exposé of the inner life of an astute, somewhat cynical 94-year-old woman, as a newly formed attachment for one of her caregivers awakens regrets for paths not taken more than 70 years past. The piece, an adaptation of Bennet’s original version, is set in NYC.

The second work, entitled “Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet,” is … well, it’s hard to describe. In literal terms, it is a monologue about a middle-aged woman who, burdened with the care of her stroke-disabled brother, finds solace and an unusual mutually beneficial relationship with her chiropodist. It’s a funny piece, deriving its humor primarily from Miss Fozzard’s steadfast refusal to recognize the true nature of what is occurring between her and the shoe obsessed Mr. Dunderdale.

Talking Heads will be presented in the Parish Hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Calle Cardo 6, Wednesday and Thursday, October 18 and 19. Lola Smith plays Violet and Maggie Bunce plays Miss Fozzard. Phoebe Greyson directs. Dic Samandl does lights and sound.

Tickets go on sale at 6:45pm each evening, on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 7pm. Ticketholders must be present at 7pm when the doors open or their ticket may be resold. The play commences at 7:30pm or earlier if the house is full before that time. Admission is 20 pesos.

 

Theater

Talking Heads

By Alan Bennett

Wed and Thu, Oct 18 and 19, 7:30pm

St. Paul’s Parish Hall, Calle Cardo 6

20 pesos

 

 

 

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