The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
December 6, 7, 8 & 9, 2006.
The Lady in the Van
by Alan Bennett
Patricia Lyne – Miss Shepherd
David Peaty – Alan Bennett 1
Bob Ryder – Alan Bennett 2
Sheelagh Baker – Alan’s Mam
John Garland – Rufus
Diane Robinson – Pauline
Margaret Pierce – Interviewer
Judith Berrill – Social Worker
Derek Fraser – Underwood
Margaret Pierce – Doctor
Sheelagh Baker – Nun
Andy Hutchison – Doctor
Richard Bulling – Ambulance Driver
Ralph Dawes – Leo Fairchild
Andy Hutchison – Lout
Richard Bulling – Lout
Stage Management – David Comber
Stage Management – Tony Holmes
Stage Management – Philip Oliver
Technical Stage Management – Helen Brewster
ASM – Olive Smith
Sound Technician – Simon Snelling
Lighting Design – Mike Medway
Lighting Technicians – Tanya Courtnadge
Lighting Technicians – Lee Wenham
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Wardrobe – Cherry Briggs
Wardrobe – Margaret Pierce
Workshop Team – David Comber
Workshop Team – Tony Holmes
Workshop Team – David Collis
Workshop Team – Robert Mitchell
Workshop Team – Philip Oliver
Workshop Team – Tracey Holmes
Workshop Team – Mark Flower
Painters – Sheila Neesham
Painters – Sue Chaplin
Painters – Judith Berrill
Publicity & Design – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity & Design – Rosemary Brown
Publicity & Design – Anna Barden
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Box Office – Mark Flower
Programme Note #1: The Lady in the Van
“Alan Bennett first wrote about his true life experiences of Miss Shepherd in 1989, in the form of an extended diary.. He then scripted this version for the stage, which premiered in 1999 to great acclaim with Maggie Smith in the title rôle. In the play, Bennett presents his own part in the story through two characters – one who deals with the everyday frustrations of life with Miss Shepherd over more than 15 years; the other who looks on in a more detached and amused way, with an eye to writing up the story. The play has been very popular on the professional stage and we are pleased that this is one of the first productions to take place in a community theatre.”
Publicity #1: The Lady in the Van
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: November 23 2006 issue – page 16
Text Header: Follow the van with Wick
IMAGINE having a dilapidated old van in your front garden for 15 years, with an eccentric, malodorous old lady living inside.
A kind heart and curiosity led playwright Allen Bennett to give Miss Shepherd an off-road parking place ‘just for a short while’. He then tuned the story of what actually happened into a poignant and quirky comedy – The Lady in the Van. The play enjoyed a successful run in London’s West End and then on tour. Now Wick Theatre Company brings the show to Southwick’s Barn Theatre.
Alan is half-horrified and half-fascinated by Miss Shepherd, played by Patricia Lyne, and her mysterious past life, and portrays himself in two characters. The first played by David Peaty, takes part in the action while the second, portrayed by Bob Ryder, acts as commentator and is invisible to the rest of the play’s performance.
Alan has two elderly ladies to worry about – his mother [Sheelagh baker], who is becoming confused and in need of extra care, and the lady in the van herself. He shops for Miss Shepherd, cleans up after her and keeps a watchful eye on her welfare. The feisty Miss Shepherd has clearly had an action-packed, unusual life and loves driving, steering an erratic course, with old-fashioned hand signals.
A large cast of characters helps tell an hilarious, but touching story, Rufus [John Garland] and Pauline [Diane Robinson] are neighbours with a laid-back lifestyle and Underwood [Derek Fraser] claims to be an old friend. Othr include a social worker, played by Judith Berrill, medics and an interviewer, played by Maggi Pierce.
Two newcomers to The Barn, Andy Hutchinson and Richard bulling, appear as various characters, including tramps, yobs and workmen.
The Lady in the Van will be performed at The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street, from Wednesday, December 6, to Saturday, December 9. Tickets cost £7 and are available now from the box office on 01273 597094.
Review #1: The Lady in the Van
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 14 2006 issue – page 13
Publication: The Courier
Publication Data: January 2007 – page 4
Reviewer: Sam Woodman
Text Header: Superb play merits ‘van’ mail
THE tale of a playwright’s turbulent friendship with a malodorous old woman he allowed to live in his garden had audiences in stitches at Southwick’s Barn Theatre.
A kind heart, and curiosity, had led writer Alan Bennett to grant the eccentric Miss Shepherd an off-road parking space for her van, which doubled up as her home, on his driveway. He turned the true story of what really happened from that day, in the mid 1970s, until Miss Shepherd’s death in 1989, into the successful comedy The Lady in the Van.
Wick Theatre Company’s production of the play was both laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, with a large cast performing wonderfully under Tony and Kate Brownings’ direction.
Alan, half horrified and half fascinated by Miss Shepherd and her mysterious past, portrays himself as two characters in the play. The first, played by David Peaty, deals with the everyday frustrations of life with Miss Shepherd over more than 15 years. The other, played, by Bob Ryder, looks on in a more detached and amused way, with an eye to writing up the story. Both proved hilarious foils for one another while observing Miss Shepherd and her often bizarre behaviour, including hoarding plastic bags of rubbish and writing to the Pope.
Patricia Lyne excelled as the titular ‘lady’, who clearly enjoyed an action-packed and unusual life before her van found its final parking space in the author’s driveway.
Miss Shepherd and the two Alans were ably supported by a large cast of characters, including Judith Berrill as a social worker charged with finding the perfect walking stick, and Rufus [John Garland] and Pauline [Diane Robinson] as laid-back neighbours.
Wick Theatre Company’s final production of 2006 was hilarious and touching, particularly at the end where regular visitor to the van, Underwood [Derek Fraser], filled in many of the gaps.
Review #2: The Lady in the Van
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
Text Header: Lady in the Van
MISS Shepherd, a lady with a past shrouded in mystery, and her decrepit van came to reside in the front garden of playwright, Alan Bennett, for “just a short while” and stayed for 15 years. This warm and witty play, written with the craft that one expects from Bennett, is full of brilliant one-liners. Being of an autobiographical nature, he uses the clever device of having two Bennetts on stage narrating the tale – one having to deal with the cantankerous, smelly, delusioned old woman whilst the other looks on, sensing a story. Both were brought wondrously to life by Bob Ryder and David Peaty, each capturing well the voice and mannerisms of Bennett.
Interwoven with the telling of Shepherd’s story is the decline, through depression and early dementia, of Bennett’s beloved Mam. In this rôle Sheelagh Baker managed, with great sensitivity, to capture the varying moods of the character. The rest of the cast produced some interesting cameos amongst which John Garland and Diane Robinson were the hypercritical liberal minded neighbours. Judith Berrill, as consistent as ever, produced many laughs as the well meaning, but naive social worker.
But it is the van and its occupant that were the stars of the evening. The vehicle’s arrival and subsequent celestial ascension was realised through clever lighting and staging – full credit to Mike Medway and the rest of the technical and construction crew.
The personification of Miss Shepherd fell to the talented Patricia Lyne. With the soiled clothes and filthy body the character repulsed, but a strong performance from Lyne managed to invoke some sympathy especially in the scene when she opened up a little about her early life.
The joint directors, Tony and Kate Brownings, are to be commended for choosing this play and for its fine realisation.
Review #3: The Lady in the Van
Publication: Words and Music
Publication Data: Issue 126 – March/April 2007 – page 15
Text Header: LADY IN THE VAN
This play by Alan Bennett was a fine production by Wick theatre company and played so realistically by David Peaty and Bob Ryder in the Author’s part and they made up to a remarkable likeness.
Miss Shepherd was well played by Patricia Lyne although she didn’t really convince as an aging lady.
Nevertheless the play was well worked out and a most amusing look at the life of a determined soul who knew where she was and what she wanted ensued.