A familiar feeling – whether it’s on a tube at rush hour, Portobello Market on the weekend, or in Hyde Park when we have a glimpse of sun. Well – Alan Bennett has put it in a play People.
I arrived at the National and stuffed a stuffed pepper in my gob at the bar. It was 7.25 and the play was about to start, it was going to be a couple of hours long, and if I’m honest, I didn’t want to go in. I wanted to chill – chew my pepper and drink my wine, but the second I hit my seat I knew I’d chosen a corker.
Dorothy, ex-model and peer, lives with her bonkers companion Iris in a stately home, which is armed with treasures from the past. Henry VIII’s rosemary hangs casually around Dorothy’s neck and there is a room full of pots containing the likes of Byron’s piss. However, these chicks live with their coats on (they haven’t got to grips with the heating) in one room. And what a room it is. The set is wonderful – you really feel the enormity of the house and its once grand status withering away with the women living in it.
Yes, Dorothy and Iris live in cuckoo land, but there is something kind of lovely about it. Dorothy reads newspapers which are decades old, and thinks The Gulf War has just ended. Nothing in the outside world bothers them… Well, apart from Dorothy’s straight and supposedly religious sister, who is constantly trying to give the house to the National Trust. To people. However, with drink constantly in her hand or gob it is quite hard to take her seriously. Somehow batty Dorothy and Iris bursting into song and prancing around every other minute are the ones to side with.
At one point Dorothy’s old lover shows up and manages to convince her to lend him the pad for a porn film… you can imagine what sort of slip-ups occur. It is quite a scene!
The modern and the ancient are in this constant hysterical battle – kinda like Tom and Jerry.
The play ends with the line “Let lost be lost. Let gone be gone, and not fetched back” – I know that Bennett is digging at the National Trust here. But it got me – I started thinking about euthanasia… not quite sure that was Alan’s plan. Whatever it was, it was the perfect ending to the play. We had laughed till our stomachs ached and now we were left with something to digest.
People is hysterical. Alan may not like the National Trust, which I’m quite keen on, but with gags like that he can get me into bed anytime.