A Lady of Letters, Norwich
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Alan Bennett doesn't just know how people talk; he knows what makes them tick. With just one character, he turns half an hour into a third of a lifetime.
Alan Bennett doesn't just know how people talk; he knows what makes them tick. With just one character, he turns half an hour into a third of a lifetime, turning away from rather comfortable comedy to something uncomfortably near to social tragedy.
Rhett Davies produces A Lady Of Letters for Broad Horizons in the lunchtime theatre season at the Maddermarket, and Judi Daykin plays Miss Ruddock – bringing out the quirky humanity of a challenging role.
At first, things don't seem too worrying. It's only too easy to feel sympathy for this elderly woman, alone with her teapot, her tranny and her trusty Platignum. Maybe she shouldn't be quite so keen to twitch the curtains. But we understand, especially as she comes from Up North. We warm to her all the more because we know how she feels about the way everything is changing – often being dressed up with a posher name. But the pen can be poisonous, complaining becomes criminal, and where the social services fail, prison, in a splendid paradox, brings just what she wants. She learns to smoke and swear, but inside there is “association” too. For more than half an hour Judi, single-handed, monopolises our attention, although the gaps between scenes are a little too long.