Review: Talking Heads, Program B

TALKING HEADS, PROGRAM B by Alan Bennett (Precisely Peter/Campbell House, 160 Queen West). Runs to rep to November 22, see.

TALKING HEADS, PROGRAM B by Alan Bennett (Precisely Peter/Campbell House, 160 Queen West). Runs to rep to November 22, see website for schedule. $25. 416-597-0227, Rating: NNNN

Theatre audiences have already seen three of Alan Bennetts masterful monologues, Talking Heads, staged by director John Shooter last year. Hes remounted that trio, again in partnership with Campbell House Museum, and added a second series.

The new program, like the first, has people reflecting on their lives and every once in a while revealing secrets they keep hidden from those around them, sometimes even surprising themselves with their utterances. The writing and Shooters direction bring out their quiet tragedies and comic tartness.

In the first, Celia (Deb Filler), a snobbish antique dealer who prides herself on having a discerning eye, cozies up to an elderly woman to get some of her estate when she dies. Sarcastic and condescending in private, Celia thinks shes made a profit on a foolish clients purchase but finds herself bitten in the end.

In Fillers hands, we laugh at the dealers put-downs and even feel a bit sorry for her when her world is turned upside down.

The next work focuses on Graham (Richard Sheridan Willis), a developmentally challenged mature man living with his mother, who becomes jealous when she renews a relationship with an oily, manipulative male friend from her past. The comedy here is muted, Willis sometimes more eloquent with his silences than with Bennetts words.

The most biting and moving monologue features Fiona Reid as Susan, a vicars wife bereft of affection and a purpose in life. She turns her satire on herself as well as on others in her world, notably her self-centred, ambitious husband and the fan club of congregants who adore his schoolboy good looks probably more than his sermons.

Low-key and personal in the intimate staging, the actor makes eye contact with most of the audience at some point Reids Susan, whose crutches are cynicism and liquor, makes a touching journey from quiet despondency to shy happiness and back again, ending on a note of ineffable sadness. Great script, great performance.

For a review of the A program of Talking Heads see

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