National Theatre Production
Lyttleton Theatre, London
Saturday 5th January 2013
With Bennett's recollections gracing the Lyttleton for Sunday specials of Hymn and Cocktail Sticks, his new play People shares the space during the week. Full of witty insights, provocative ideas and hilarious performances, this is an entertaining new offering.
Expertly played by Frances de la Tour, Dorothy is the eccentric old heiress of a dilapidated stately home in the unfashionable South Yorkshire and, with her younger sister (Selina Cadell) twisting her arm, is exploring options as to how best to off load the estate thus avoiding inevitable death duties. A charming auctioneer, played by Miles Jupp, woos with his sales pitch and brings a tempting proposition of selling off all the antique furniture and contents, while the archdeacon sister believes the National Trust offer a better package for maintaining the house and avoiding family bankruptcy, despite Dorothy's dislike at the thought of all the people that would be traipsing through.
As options are mulled, an old flame of Dorothy's arrives and reveals his new career as Producer of pornographic films - and so, in an especially entertaining few scenes, the house becomes a location for the fabulously titled "Reach for the Thigh" - Dorothy's final fling with her home before giving in to the onslaught of people via the National Trust.
There are moments throughout of poignancy, and plenty of depth to Dorothy's character, but it is in the many strokes of comedic excellence that this play most succeeds. A very funny, often outrageous piece of new theatre.