It is always a pleasure to attend a performance at the delightful Bournemouth Little Theatre in Jameson Road, Winton,with its quaint ambience, cosy interior and nostalgic appearance, and what better reason to turn out on a cold, wet evening than to watch an excellent production of Talking Heads. Alan Bennett, leading English-language dramatist since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s, wrote Talking Heads, which became a television series and modern-day classic, as have many of his works.
In A Bed Among the Lentils, Susan is a vicar’s wife who, suffocated by the expectations forced upon her by her position, is an alcoholic. When forced to find an alternative shop to purchase her wine, she comes across an Asian shopkeeper and embarks on an affair. Jan Smiles’s delivery of the narrative is most entertaining, eliciting sympathy and conveying desperation and humour as the monologue about her predicaments among the flower-arranging team of the parish and her cavorting in the upstairs of the shop unfolds.
The title of A Lady of Letters refers to a middle-aged prolific letter-writing spinster, Irene. Her interest and subsequent concerns regarding her neighbours land her in trouble and a visit from two police officers does nothing to deter her letters of complaint. June Garland’s wonderful facial expressions and body language add great depth and plausibility to the character as we watch an over-zealous pastime land her in a heap of trouble.
In A Cream Cracker under the Settee, performed by Virginia Harrington, widow Doris is found fighting to maintain her independence and prove her capability to live at home with support from a carer, resisting the suggestion that she would be better off moving to a nursing home. As the monologue starts, we find her sitting on the floor, having fallen whilst tackling some forbidden cleaning and unable to summon help. Her reminiscences about the joys and sadness of her life are poignant and thought-provoking.
Director Rachel de Courcy Beamish has tastefully dressed the stage in appropriate minimalist style, enhancing each of the three performances by scene setting without unnecessary distraction and the perfect use of blackout lighting for the passage of time.
As always, a terrific evening showcasing amazing talent – brave the weather and get yourself along to the theatre. It may be a well-hidden gem, but if, like one group of attendees who sadly missed the first piece, you don’t know where it is, make it your mission to search it out. There is now a brown tourist facility road sign directing you from Wimborne Road. Talking Heads runs until 28 October, at 7.45 each evening.
Congratulations to all involved. From the aftershow chatter I heard, you’ve left the audience excited for your next production!