A brand new production of Alan Bennett’s drama The Lady in the Van is set to open in Bath as part of the 2017 Summer Season, appearing from Thursday 17th August to Saturday 2nd September.
Award-winning Sara Kestelman stars as one of drama’s most extraordinary characters as she plays the eccentric Miss Shepherd, directed by Jonathan Church CBE.
When a decrepit Bedford van grinds to a halt opposite Alan Bennett’s house in Camden Town in 1974, little does the writer suspect that its next parking place will be his own garden, where its evil-smelling occupant is to remain for a further fifteen years.
The genuinely eccentric Miss Shepherd used to drive ambulances in the war, has an unexplained aversion to piano music, may have been a nun, and is described by the author as “a bigoted, blinkered, cantankerous, devious, unforgiving, self-centred, rank, rude, car-mad cow”.
This witty and uplifting comedy tells the intriguing true story of Alan Bennett’s unusual neighbour. Forced to turn down his music to her complaints, recharge her van’s flat battery and become her reluctant carer, Bennett uses his vivid observations to create a heart-warming play full of great one-liners.
Of course The Lady in the Van would not be complete without Alan Bennett himself – or rather the two Alan Bennetts who appear in this play, portrayed by actors Sam Alexander and James Northcote.
The cast also features Emma Amos as Pauline, Paul Hickey as Rufus, Gabrielle Lloyd as Mam, David Shaw Parker as Mam’s Doctor and Leo Fairchild, Lia Burge as Interviewer and Doctor, Steve Simmonds as Ambulance Driver and Cat Simmons as Social Worker.
Artistic Director of the Theatre Royal Bath’s Summer Seasons, Jonathan Church is acclaimed for his exceptional work at Chichester Festival Theatre, where he oversaw over 100 productions and was awarded a CBE in 2015, as well as his work in the West End and internationally.
His most recent production, Racing Demon, which opened Bath’s 2017 Summer Season was praised by critics and audiences alike.
Alan Bennett has been a household name for more than forty years. His reputation as the master of observation and brilliant comic phrasing was sealed with his series of ground-breaking Talking Heads, originally filmed for television.
One of the most distinctive voices in British theatre, his plays also include Single Spies, Enjoy, Forty Years On, Habeas Corpus and The Lady in the Van which was recently made into a film.
His hit play The Madness of George III was also made into film, The Madness of King George, which won two BAFTAs and was Oscar-nominated. The stage play was successfully revived in Bath in 2011 and transferred to the West End.
His drama The History Boys won no less than 30 major awards and was made into a film in 2005. His most recent successes on stage at the National Theatre include The Habit of Art and People.
The Lady in the Van appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Thursday 17th August to Saturday 2nd September.
Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk.