Alan Bennett

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Plays by Alan Bennett

An Englishman Abroad

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In 1958, actress Coral Browne met a spy in Moscow. And not just any spy – the exiled English spy, Guy Burgess, whom she visits in his seedy flat in Russia’s capital.

Based on true events, Bennett’s play offers a portrait of betrayal and morality that ultimately focuses on one’s man desire to be alone and the consequences of that desire.

An Englishman Abroad premiered at the Royal National Theatre, London, in December 1988.

video An Englishman Abroad (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Alan Bennett's award-winning film drama based on a meeting between Australian actress, Coral Browne and British spy, Guy Burgess. Alan Bates stars in a story based on a true incident which took place in Moscow in 1958. British spy, Guy Burgess encounters actress Coral Browne (who plays herself) on tour from the 'old country'. Invited to lunch at Burgess's shabby apartment, he presents her with a strange request. Both Browne and Bates were winners of BAFTA awards for acting for their roles in this production.

Credits:

Guy Burgess: Alan Bates; Herself: Coral Browne; Claudius: Charles Gray; Rosencrantz: Harold Innocent; Guildenstern: Vernon Dobtcheff; General: Czeslaw Grocholski; Boy: Matthew Sim; Hamlet: Mark Wing-Davey; Hotel Receptionist: Faina Zinova; Toby: Douglas Reith; Giles: Peter Chelsom; Tessa: Judy Gridley; Scarf Man: Bibs Ekkel; Tolya: Alexei Jawdokimov; Mrs Burgess: Molly Veness; Tailor: Denys Hawthorne; Shoe Shop Assistant: Roger Hammond; George: Charles Lamb; Pyjama Shop Manager: Trevor Baxter; Writer: Alan Bennett; Director: John Schlesinger; Producer: Innes Lloyd.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

Kafka's Dick

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Sydney and Linda are living perfectly normal lives in 1980s suburban Yorkshire, when they are visited by the esteemed (and long-dead) author Franz Kafka, as well as his (also long-dead) friend and work-guardian, Max Brod. Things get even stranger when Kafka’s father, Hermann, turns up – and threatens to reveal a big secret about his son.

Bennett’s play explores he nature of reputation and fame, and the fate of an artist’s work after their death.

Kafka’s Dick premiered in the Royal Court Theatre, London, in September 1986.

The Old Country

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In what appears to be a very English scene, Hilary and Bron are sitting peacefully on a verandah, when Hilary’s sister and her husband show up. But this is more than just a family visit, and it is soon revealed that all is not as it appears.

Bennett deftly uses the backdrop of a Cold War spy story to explore questions of loyalty, betrayal and national identity in this suspenseful and entertaining play.

The Old Country premiered at the Queen’s Theatre, London, in September 1977.

A Question of Attribution

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Sir Anthony Blunt is the director of the Courtauld Institute, London. While cleaning a Titian painting, Blunt has discovered a potential forgery in the Royal Collection. But the painting isn’t the only fake – Blunt himself is a spy, the soon-to-be infamous 'fourth man' in the Cambridge Spy Ring.

Playing on the concept of fakes, Bennet’s drama explores deception, loyalty and artifice in British society, exposing the muddy waters of Cold War era politics and government.

A Question of Attribution premiered at the Royal National Theatre, London, in December 1988.

Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for stage including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-nominated screenplay The Madness of King George), and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. At the National Theatre, London, The History Boys won numerous awards including Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Play, an Olivier for Best New Play and the South Bank Award. On Broadway, The History Boys won five New York Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics' Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics' Award, a New York Drama League Award and six Tonys. The Habit of Art opened at the National in 2009 and People in 2012, together with two short plays, Hymn and Cocktail Sticks. His collection of prose Untold Stories won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography, 2006. Recent works of fiction are The Uncommon Reader and Smut: Two Unseemly Stories.