Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Lady in the Van.

We'd been looking forward to this for about three weeks and we weren't disappointed.

Well, perhaps just a little sad that 'The Lady in The Van' was given such a short run in the cinemas and that they chose such a small theatre for it.

Written by Alan Bennett this was a magnificent film - very sad, very funny.
Which shouldn't be surprising as he gave up a career as a Medieval historian to become a satirical writer in the 1960's, when comedians shone a spotlight on the corrupt and incompetent government of Macmillan and the Tories.
Most of his life he's been a playwright, an actor and a leading diarist. For 15 years, his nice home in comfortable Camden Town hosted 'Miss Sheperd', a distressed and vulnerable elderly lady living in her ancient van. At first she stayed on the street outside, then by stages moved onto his drive and into his life.
Then again Bennett has long been the quiet voice of polite, English opposition to Thatcherism and all the attacks on the NHS, the welfare state and the kindlier, more human aspects of living in Britain.
Of course, he took her in.
Miss Sheperd had a dark 'secret'......possibly, but she was a huge presence; rude, selfish and very funny.
It's a rare writer who wants to write looking out of his window staring at Miss Sheperd's van, painted a vivid untidy yellow and surrounded by piles of filth and squalor.
I think he was more than a little kind to his 1970's neighbours - I think they were a lot more unhappy than he portrayed in the film.
And it's a painfully honest depiction of his life as well as hers.
There wouldn't have been a lot of point in making the film at all if Miss Sheperd hadn't been played by the wonderful Maggie Smith;
We laughed enormously and were just as sad too.
If Dame Maggie Smith doesn't get an Oscar for this there is no justice at all.
If it's still on, it's a 'must see' and I don't often say that.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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