A unique collection of 12 full-cast BBC Radio productions of plays by Alan Bennett.
The titles are:
The cast includes John Gielgud, Patricia Routledge, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench, Thora Hird, Alex Jennings and many more.
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Alan Bennett is a National treasure and I hope he goes on writing plays and stories for ever. He has a real insight into what we humans are all about and conveys it thoughtfully.
The actors taking part in this audiobook played their parts extremely well and with clarity. Particularly touching was the author's homage to the late and much missed Thora Hird.
Listen to all the plays as they all have something different to offer. A real treat
This is a collection of Alan Bennett plays. Some of them better known than others acted by the usual cast of players including Thora Hurd so lovers of Alan Bennett won't be disappointed.
But the really irritating thing about this Audible presentation, and the fault presumably lies with Audible, is that none of the plays are individually listed in the contents. So if you want to listen to Kafka's Dick for instance you have to trawl through over 20 "chapters" until you hit on the right one that announces after 30 sec of theme music that you are now listening to Kafka's Dick. Really irritating and if I had known before hand this was how the download was organised I would not have purchased it.
Fans of Alan's work will need little prompting to download this collection of radio plays broadcast on Radio 4. There is probably something new here for everyone, as well as something very familiar that will bring much pleasure on being reheard. A more serious work "forty years on" not all of which I was able to follow begins the collection with the cast including John Gielgud. There are several plays featuring Dame Thora Hird more reminiscent of the "Talking Heads" series of monologues. One of Alan's hits, "the history boys" works very well in the Radio adaptation although I've seen it on stage and the film with the familiar cast includes James Cordon and Richard Griffiths. The final autobiographical pieces centred around his parents and feature Alan himself as well as Alex Jennings playing 'him'. Thinking of my own mother who was also a product of North Yorkshire trying to adapt to Southern sophistication Bennet's work brought me close to tears.
Writer and audiobook reviewer.
Here are 12 vintage BBC dramatisations of an eclectic range of Alan Bennett's plays from The History Boys and The Madness of George lll, to his exploration of Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt and The Lady in the Van and, for me the most poignant, the autobiographical Cocktail Sticks. Wide-ranging, they are all bound together by Bennett's ability to make great and banal events equally moving and involving, to see into lives and minds not usually looked into, and to convey the aching voids and disappointments in characters' lives in a single phrase or piece of dialogue. ('Why didn't I have a childhood?' he asks his doing-her-best, inadequate mother.)
Bennett can always inject humour into scenarios teetering on tragedy - be it the raving George lll, Hector the groping history teacher, demented Miss Sheppard living in the van on Bennett's land, or the old lady trapped in an old people's home by her bossy daughter. The autobiographical plays featuring his own stumbling adolescence ('Girls always felt safe with me - probably because they were.') and the achingly painful but affectionate lives of his parents (his mother so ashamed of the smell of fat when 'Dad,' a butcher, made dripping twice a week in the basement) with his mother's ultimate dementia make unforgettable listening. The themes may sound depressing, but their humanity lifts them above it.
And then it's not just the words but the performances from the full casts of the cream of stage actors including Thora Hird (to whom Bennett includes a fitting eulogy), Maggie Smith, Patricia Routledge, John Gielgud, Alex Jennings. They are, everyone of them, quite simply, the best - and there is some lovely singing too. Whilst listening to these plays I miss the inlay card in CDs which would have given me the titles of the plays and the cast lists. The introductions on the download are perfunctory and rushed - enough to confuse a listener not already familiar with them.
Alan Bennett's newest instalments of his Diaries, Keeping On Keeping On 2005-2014, is available as a download from Audible, but lasting only 2hours 16minutes it can give only a taste of the 736page book. It is read by Bennett which is a bonus, but there is plenty of Bennett's own voice on Alan Bennett Plays too - and ten hours more listening than the Diaries.
The inimitable Alan Bennett at his very best. Entertaining, thought provoking and laugh-out-loud from beginning to end. Excellent acting by some of our most renowned actors. Will listen to this again and again.
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