Two Alan Bennett Plays from the series ‘Talking Heads’ – ‘Bed among the Lentils’ and ‘Soldiering on’.
Directed by David Cordon
Talking Heads is a series of dramatic monologues written by Bennett in 1987 for BBC Television. The series was also performed on BBC Radio and became a best-selling audio book.
‘Bed among the Lentils’ features Susan a vicar’s wife, played by Paquita Savill, living in a small village near Leeds. She talks about her dependence on alcohol, including drinking the communion wine and falling down the altar stairs. She describes her friendship and affair with Ramesh, a grocer in Leeds where she buys her sherry. Susan’s recovery from alcoholism is triggered by a remark by Ramesh and she attends AA meetings. The vicar attributes Susan’s recovery to God and ironically the Bishop promotes him on the basis that he knows the trials parishioners face.
‘Soldiering on’ features Muriel, a pillar of the community, played by Caroline Brooks. Muriel a charity worker, meals on wheels volunteer and carer for her mentally ill daughter Margaret, feels she is well prepared to cope after the death of her husband. She is brisk and cheerful, manages the funeral but hands control of the money inherited from her husband to her son Giles. It is clear that Giles is mismanaging her money, but not to Muriel who is surprised when he loses all of it. She is forced to sell her house and possessions and move to a small seaside town. Muriel ends the story poor and alone; her daughter Margaret meanwhile improves and lives a near normal life after psychiatric treatment.
Paquita Savill and Caroline Brooks are well-known to Woolpit audiences and appeared recently in the play ‘Agnes of God’
This amateur production of “Soldiering On” and “Bed Among the Lentils” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD., a Concord Theatricals Company.