Napier Operatic is once again opening its doors by popular demand to a season of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues.
Talking Heads is a series of dramatic monologues written for BBC television by British playwright Alan Bennett, who also wrote The Lady in The Van.
The first series was broadcast on BBC One in 1988 and adapted for radio on BBC Radio 4 in 1991. A second series was broadcast on BBC Two in 1998. During this uncertain year of Covid-19 and lockdown the BBC remade 10 of the existing episodes, with two brand new stories which were recently aired on Sky Arts.
Napier Operatic will be presenting three monologues this year under the directing skills of Sharyn Hildreth. Sharyn came to Napier Operatic to provide these as a fundraiser for repairs at their Tabard Theatre in 2019 and were so popular came back for more in 2020.
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This year we will be treated to a slightly different format. Our first monologue, Bed Among the Lentils, will be presented by a guest artist at each performance. We are thrilled to have four outstanding local actresses to share this wonderful monologue that was originally played by Maggie Smith.
Robyn O'Hagan, Lisa-Jane Easter, Jane Pierard and Kerry Unsworth are telling the story of Susan, an alcoholic, nervous vicar's wife who has to travel into Leeds to go to the off-licence because of her debts with the local shop keeper. She distracts herself from her ambitious, and, as she sees him, vainly insensitive husband and his doting parishioners by conducting an affair with a nearby grocer, Ramesh Ramesh the third, discovering something about herself and God in the process. She does not feel cheated when Ramesh Ramesh moves on to marry. Robyn O'Hagan will be performing Thursday, November 5 at 7pm; Lisa Jane Easter, Friday, November 6 at 7pm; Kerry Unsworth, Saturday, November 7 at the 2pm matinee and Jane Pierard on Saturday, November 7 at 7pm.
Our second monologue, Soldiering On, will be performed by Eleanore McLean. Eleanore tells us the story of Muriel, a strong woman, and always has been, a pillar of the community, a regular charity worker, and a volunteer for Meals on Wheels; and looking after her mentally ill daughter, Margaret, has fortified her resolve. So, after the death of her husband Ralph, Muriel is well-prepared to cope with the crisis. However, given her son Giles' ineptitude (or dishonesty) with money, and the vile secret behind Margaret's illness, Muriel finds that she needs to adapt to "soldier on". Soldiering On was originally presented by Stephanie Cole.
To finish off an evening of laughter, tears, joy and drama John Cocking brings us back a repeat performance of A Chip in the Sugar. John plays mild, middle-aged Graham Whittaker (who we learn is a repressed homosexual with a history of mild mental health problems). Graham finds life becoming complicated as his mother, with whom he still lives, reunites with an old flame named Frank Turnbull. Graham becomes increasingly jealous when Mr Turnbull takes an ever-growing hold on Mam, especially when Frank proposes marriage while simultaneously suggesting Graham moves out of the house to a hostel. But Mr Turnbull is hiding a secret, and when Graham finds out he triumphantly confronts his mother with the information, restoring the status quo and his comfortable life, but destroying her hopes of happiness in the process.
This is an evening that you will not want to miss. The season runs from November 5-7. Tickets are now available at the Tabard theatre Costume Hire, The Napier Municipal Theatre and online at www.iticket.co.nz.