23 December 2009


I'm so pleased this is online and hence copiable in a trice.

I laughed out loud even as I read it and everyone I've shared it with has been so impressed by my skilled delivery they've with one accord urged me,

"Just give the magazine here and stop ruining it with your rubbishy reading."

It concerns Alan Bennett's play The Lady in the Van when it was performed in London.

The piece includes two Alan Bennetts: one to take part in the action, the other to narrate.

One night, one of the ABs was called away and, for some reason, there was no understudy, so a chap in black tie appeared on stage before the curtain rose.

‘Owing to indisposition, the part of Alan Bennett will be played tonight by Mr Alan Bennett.’

And there was the playwright himself.

Of course the real Alan Bennett hadn’t memorised the text, so he was the only performer who had to read from the book. But it was a very Alan Bennett moment: the one person who couldn’t convincingly take the part was Alan Bennett.

He could be Alan Bennett but he could not perform Alan Bennett; watching Alan Bennett as Alan Bennett, the audience could not entirely suspend their disbelief."

Isn't that the most divine Bennett story? And, when you read Simon Hoggart's original in the Dec 9 Spectator link, so expertly told.

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