Review: Lady In The Van by The Heath Players

Lifestyle / Thu 7th Apr 2016 am30 11:21am

Lady in the Van by The Heath Players

THE problem with taking on a smash film and a cracking script is that you are now performing without the aid of a safety net.

However, the Heath Players are no doubt a fearless bunch and have produced a remarkable production of Alan Bennett’s tale of a disturbed lady who takes up residence in a van in the front of this Camden house between 1974 and 1989.

In many ways, this is a tale about mental health. The more we face up to the subject then the more this plays reflects a tale of a traumatised tramp and her way of coping.

The portrayal of Miss Shepherd by Sid Perry is a 24 carat tour de force. It would be so easy to reduce the character to a series of Maggie Smith mannerisms. Instead, Sid plays it for real and manages to dance the humour with the real turmoil that hung over Miss Shepherd all these years.

She is more than ably assisted by the two Alan Bennett’s. Not sure if they looked like Alan Bennett or Mp Andrew Mitchell and Ronnie Corbett but matters not: They both punctuated the play, in their two minds with a faultless delivery of wit and self deprecation. This reviewer was particularly taken by Ckive Weatherly who really projects and emotes to an audience.

Chrissie Richard direction is masterful. With limited space, she creates a compact set which evokes the feel of bourgeoise Camden in the seventies and eighties. The neighbour’s wall was particularly effective as the nouveau neighbours (played wonderfully by Jaki Newman and Mark Ratcliff chipped in).

A special mention has to be made for the van. It made quite an entrance and its faithful recreation really evolved everything but the smell…

There was a packed audience on the opening night and it it uplifting to see the Heath Players being so well supported.

It is on for another three nights.
We recommend.

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