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Much Hadham Drama Group performs Alan Bennett comedy People




Much Hadham Drama Group perform Alan Bennett's People from Thu 16 - Sat 18 May(10302463)
Much Hadham Drama Group perform Alan Bennett's People from Thu 16 - Sat 18 May(10302463)

The stage of Much Hadham village hall is being transformed this week into a crumbling stately home that plays host to a porn film crew.

Much Hadham Drama Group – and five friends from Bishop’s Stortford’s Water Lane Theatre Company – are performing national treasure Alan Bennett’s entertaining and touching comedy People, which has all of the writer’s trademark mischievous wit and sense of the ridiculous.

The production opens on Thursday and runs until Saturday (May 16-18) with performances each evening at 8pm.

The play premièred at the National Theatre in 2012. Directed by long-time Bennett collaborator Nicholas Hytner, it starred Frances de la Tour, Nicholas le Prevost, Peter Egan and Linda Bassett. It received widespread acclaim from London’s theatre critics and toured the UK in 2013 with a cast including Siân Phillips, Brigit Forsyth and Selina Cadell.

People hinges on the future of the ancestral South Yorkshire home since 1456 of the Stacpoole family, headed in the 21st century by impoverished aristocrat Lady Dorothy (played by Lisa Turpcu), once a successful fashion model but now sporting a moth-eaten fur coat and gym shoes.

She lives in the mouldering mansion with her lifelong companion, Iris (Anne Senior), and shrinks from the idea of it being opened to the public gaze; she is even tempted by an offer from a valuer (Ralph Camp), working on behalf of a shadowy consortium, to transport the whole house to Dorset or Wiltshire.

Meanwhile, Dorothy’s gruff archdeacon of a sister, June (Amanda Green), is close to doing a deal with the National Trust (represented by Ralph Lumsden, played by Indie editor Paul Winspear), which will both make the house a piece of English history and fill it with racily interactive features.

But a third possibility arises when a film production company – headed by director Mr Theodore (Granville Rush, assisted by Jem Deans, Paul Haimes, Marge Ellis and Rachel Leung) – turns up to use the site as a location for a porn movie called “Reach for the Thigh”.

Bennett uses the house to make a series of sharp, stabbing points about our urge to commodify all human experience and shows how the process has accelerated to the point of absurdity. The man from the National Trust talks of “restoring the patina” of cells in Belfast’s Maze prison which figured in the so-called dirty protests and gets wildly excited by the discovery that the threatened house contains old chamber pots in which the urine of famous historical guests is lovingly maintained.

The Guardian review of the NT production said: “While the play has one or two awkward contrivances, it confirms Bennett’s peculiar gift for blending the satiric and the elegiac.”

* People runs from Thursday to Saturday (May 16-18) with performances starting each evening at 8pm. Tickets cost £9 and are available on the door or in advance from the Bishop’s Stortford Independent office in North Street, the Londis store in Much Hadham or the box office on 01279 842822. There will be a licensed bar in the village hall.



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