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"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. "
(Macbeth: Act V Scene V)


‘The Old Country’ by Alan Bennett


April 2015


Directed by: David Hemsley Brown
Design by: David Hemsley-Brown
Lighting by: Nigel Greenaway
Sound by: Alex Lyon
Cast: Richard Parish, Wendy Davies, Derek Watts, Alison Brooks, Nick Lund and Nancy Lund

For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production CLICK - : Old Country


"dazzlingly witty" (Telegraph)

Hilary and Bron appear to be a perfectly normal couple living in a small, peaceful house in the country but things are not as they seem. Alan Bennett’s The Old Country deals with questions of loyalty and betrayal, homeland and exile, friendship and family in a way which is both extraordinarily funny and exceptionally touching.

SURREY ADVERTISER REVIEW OF ‘THE OLD COUNTRY’ BY MARGARET BURGESS

When you take your seat at the Mill Theatre for the Lighted Fools production of Alan Bennett’s ‘The Old Country’, you’ll see, in front of you, a beautifully observed set of what seems to be a log cabin.
There are hundreds of books, a scattering of mementos and a lived-in feel, with the period lovingly observed. I don’t remember ever seeing such a detailed set in the little Mill. .
It could be in a Surrey village. It is, in fact, a dacha. One in which Hilary, a Foreign Office defector, spends his summers in an orchestrated retreat from Moscow. He and his long suffering wife, Bron, are waiting for a visit from Hilary’s sister and her recently knighted establishment husband, his first visit since Hilary defected 14 years ago, in 1963. .
Hilary is impeccably English. His speech is imprinted with irony and cocooned in understatement. He might be a Soviet citizen now but he remains as English as a summer fete. .
This isn’t a play for those who want action. Nothing much happens. The men talk interminably. It is cultured erudite talk. Monologues rather than conversation. .
Their wives act as a sort of chorus. We learn very little about life in Russia and a great deal about life in London. Exile generates nostalgia. .
Hilary is played by Richard Parish. An impressive performance, encapsulating the essential character of this man in all its dryness, humour, snobbery, unthinking cruelty and bigotry. .
As his wife, Wendy Davies was resigned to exile and to a less than perfect marriage. Like a woman who has overdone the valium, her inertia provided a sounding board for her husband’s oral incontinence. .
“This,” she says with a face as bleak as a Siberian winter, “is our happy ever after.” .
And into this life of marital making do bursts Duff, another fluent self-obsessed talker. Except that unlike Hilary, he’s successful, urbane sleek. .
It is perhaps a bit too long but with a cast of this calibre, that doesn’t seem to matter. The programme tells us that this is an amateur production. About as amateur as the Old Vic. .
The cast bats all the way down the list and as you would expect from an Alan Bennett play, there are lots of laughs and much wit. .
But in the end, the picture is a bleak one, not only of the life of a defector but of life in England. .



COMMENTS FROM OUR AUDIENCE ON ‘THE OLD COUNTRY’

'GOOD' isn't the word - 'SUPERB' is how I would describe it

Beautifully directed and couldn't fault the acting

A wonderful production….we really enjoyed it

So refreshing to watch good quality theatre

Just got home from opening night - very good play but brilliant performance

Everyone was excellent and the characterisations so strong

The set was a total wow factor

Everyone was spot on, within the limits of every character being a version of Alan Bennett of course

Overall, another LF triumph

Hilary and Duff and their uneasy relationship is really the bedrock of the play and that really came across

Richard Parish as Hilary and Wendy Davies as Bron made a very convincing, comfy and believable couple

Great little touches …. when Duff sat down about five people around me whispered ‘socks!’

The Lighted Fools cast was very polished

Richard Parish as Hilary was superb

All played their parts exceedingly well

I wish I had known a bit more about the background to it as it took a while for me to cotton on to the location but then that’s the whole point of it

I loved the twists and characters but then that is classic Bennett

Another brilliant production from Lighted Fools

We were able to pick up tickets at the very last minute and were so pleased we did

It was as if the characters were having a conversation at home and not acting. It was amazing how everything just flowed. Some plays we have seen the actors are so stiff in the dialogue and not flowing with their lines. You were all the opposite. Many congratulations!

Congratulations on a splendid version of Allan Bennett’s play. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening

I thought the performance seamless

We loved the play and thought you were all great but not so keen on the hare!

Very good set

Well done. Very impressed

Wonderful set ... not toooooo keen on the play but thought there were some great characterisations

Thoroughly enjoyed the play on Thursday evening. A terrific performance and in such a relaxed manner. Very well done to everyone

A great success for Lighted Fools

We have never had a gun pointed straight at us from the stage before and in the hands of a traitor!

Congratulations on an excellent performance on Saturday. We really enjoyed the play - all the actors did a superb job and in our estimation were brilliant

Looking forward to the next one!

It was very well done as usual and the set was wonderful!

A tour de force from Richard Parish. Fantastic!

An excellent production of a play I had never seen

I love the way it is designed and dressed (including costume) not to give away where we are or the stranger in the woods who is spoken to and fed

The hare shocked a few on Friday night, glad no vegans in the audience - maybe there were! I must say I looked twice thinking gosh that is not a prop!

We very much enjoyed the play last week. Bit confused half way through the first part but it all came together very well during the second half

I loved the expressions and gesticulations of the actors

A very belated message to say how I enjoyed The Old Country. Entertained and intrigued throughout

I was totally relaxed because everything was handled on-stage beautifully

That was a major, major undertaking and, if not a contradiction in terms, it seemed at the same time to be not without effort yet effortless

and finally…………………………

I hear I missed a terrific production!


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