Left - Sigrid Thornton in Her Big Chance. Cover - Brenda Blethyn in Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet. Photos - Peter Stone
In the late 80s and early 90s British playwright Alan Bennett wrote a series of monologues for a star series of actors to perform on television. These monologues are collectively called Talking Heads and have since lived on in radio adaptations and successful theatrical presentations around the globe. About two years ago Australian audiences were treated to the magnificent talents of Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack performing Bed Among the Lentils and Soldiering On respectively.
One of our favourite local performers, Sigrid Thornton (Seachange), has teamed up with international film actor Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies, Clubland) to tour with two pieces - Her Big Chance and Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet.
Thornton does not quite capture the role of Lesley and her sad naivety as she clings to the memory of being a glorified extra in a Polanski movie, all the while falling into the abyss that is the adult porn industry. In a role originated by Julie Walters, Thornton often looks uncomfortable in a medium where she does not often perform. The accent never seems natural and detracts from the material.
Blethyn’s Miss Fozzard however, is a terrific display of a delightful performer’s experience and comic timing. This spinster who has an unusual relationship with her chiropodist Mr Dunderdale, is a captivating and memorable portrait of small-town gossips and old values.
What is so apparent while watching these pieces, is the remarkable writing talents of Mr Bennett. He has the ability of observing very ordinary people and allowing them to talk about their lives in a very extraordinary and usually hilarious manner. He may have had recent international success with The History Boys, but he would surely have to be one of the finest writers of monologues of recent times.
For the sheer joy of listening to these monologues being performed, and feeling almost as if the characters are speaking just to you, it is so worth the trip to the theatre.
There are at least eight more Bennett monologues to be performed here. One can only hope that these are on the way.
AKA, Tinderbox Productions, Duncan C Weldon & Paul Elliott & HVK present
by Alan Bennett
Venue: Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
Dates: Tuesday 16 October to Sunday 28 October
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012 or ticketek.com.au
30 October - 1 November
(03) 6233 2299
2 & 3 November
(03) 6323 3666
6 & 7 November
(02) 6275 2700
9 - 11 November
From 13 November
1300 795 012
Her Majesty’s Theatre
4 - 7 December
(02) 4929 1977