Hoarse Raven Theatre

Two comedies by Alan Bennett

A Lady of Letters & Her Big Chance

Director Michael Fera Set,Sound &Lighting Design  Michael Fera Costume Design Tanya Dixon-Warren Stage Manager Michael Fera

Dates and Venue 3 - 13 March (Tues.-Sat.) 2010 @ 8:00pm Jericho Arts Centre

Reviewer Jane Penistan

Tanja Dixon-Warren presents two of Alan Bennett's indomitable ladies and keeps her audience in thrall to these two very different women. She presents Bennett's sharp wit and perception of character, circumstance and personality with understanding and highly polished technique. Not only her speech but also her gestures and movement are all totally at one with each of her two very dissimilar ladies.

Each monologue comprises short scenes set in three different spaces in the acting area, each furnished differently. Upstage centre is a curtained window and a down stage table and chair. This is flanked by stage right, an armchair and a clothes rack. Stage left is another armchair. Each space is lit as the action takes place and the actor changes position and costume for each separate short scene in minimal blackouts. The costumes are very cleverly designed for each situation and totally in keeping with each character.

Her Big Chance shows the trials and tribulations that beset an actor and casting staff at a film audition. Leslie certainly knows how to get noticed here. The Lady of Letters pokes fun at British institutions. The lady enjoys writing letters. Her letters are all of complaints, to royalty, to a funeral director and a lot to local civic authorities. Her other occupation is keeping watch on the neighbours through the gap in the curtain.

Visitors are a rarity in Irene's life and the few she describes are not very entertaining. Her street watching, which she describes in detail, results in some unexpected visitors and leads to a life style change for the lonely widow. To both these often hilarious monologues there is an under-stated, under-written irony and sadness.

From her quick change clothes, to her impeccably timed speech and her suggestive body language and facial expression, Tanja Dixon-Warren gets it all right. This is an amusing and entertaining show incredibly well directed, produced and performed. Go and enjoy it.

© 2010 Jane Penistan