A critically-acclaimed double bill of Alan Bennett plays, originally performed at the National Theatre and adapted for BBC Radio 4.
An Englishman Abroad: It is 1958, and in a squalid flat in Moscow, double-agent Guy Burgess is hiding from the world. When he is visited by actress Coral Browne, he is overjoyed to see someone from his former life in England. Starved for information, Burgess interrogates her about English society gossip, and cajoles her into taking home measurements for a new pinstripe suit from his London tailor.
A Question of Attribution: In 1956, Sir Anthony Blunt, pillar of the Establishment and respected Knight of the Realm, is working as Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures. Perfectly at home in the corridors of Buckingham Palace, he frequently encounters Her Majesty as he works on her paintings, and has a special fondness for one particular Titian. However, there is one small problem: the painting, like Blunt himself, is a fake. Is the Queen aware that her enigmatic servant might also be other than he seems?
Poignant and moving, these two brand new adaptations feature household names Simon Callow, Brigit Forsyth, Edward Petherbridge and Prunella Scales.
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"A pure joy throughout!"
This two-play compendium is thoroughly wonderful. If you enjoyed the "History Boys," Bennett's most recent hit play, now a hard-to-find (and excellent) movie, you will love these two one-acters. Both deal outwardly with the English spy scandals of the '50s and '60. "An Englishman Abroad" deals with Burgess in Moscow, and "A Question of Attribution" with "the fourth man" identified as Anthony Blunt in his capacity of curator of the Queen's pictures. However, the subject is really just a means of allowing Bennett to use his facility for charmingly glib dialog expressing thoughts about art, history, patriotism, and other interesting topics. The actors, a group of reliably splendid English performers, are delightful. In particular, Prunella Scales, as the Queen in "A Question of Attribution," is particularly memorable. Buy and enjoy again and again!
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