Alan Bennett has a very unusual neighbour. Parked at the bottom of his garden is a van. With a lady in it. Miss Shepherd is a curious and enigmatic lady. Alan knows very little about her. She used to drive ambulances in the war, might have been a nun, sells pencils and pamphlets and has an unexplained aversion to piano music. But somehow she lives in the playwright’s garden and has done for years.
Alan Bennett is the writer of The History Boys, Talking Heads and The Madness of George III; his latest play, Habit of Art, was a recent hit at the National Theatre and on tour, including dates at the Lowry. Lady in the Van is based on his own recollections of the indomitable Miss Shepherd.
Nichola McAuliffe is probably best known as Sheila Sabatini in seven series of ITVs Surgical Spirit. She also appeared as Anita in Coronation Street (also for ITV). Recent TV credits include guest roles in Dr Who, My Family and Holby City. She has won Olivier Award’s for her roles as The Baroness in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium and for Kate in the RSC's production of Kiss Me Kate.
Director Sarah Esdaile's recent credits include the world premiere of Crash by William Nicholson and a hugely acclaimed Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, both for West Yorkshire Playhouse, co-directing the smash hit Birmingham Rep/WYP stage version of His Dark Materials and Coyote on a Fence at Manchester Royal Exchange and in the West End. She has also directed for The Bush and the RSC.
Designer Ben Stones has designed for the Donmar Warehouse, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Young Vic and recently designed Enemy of the People with Anthony Sher at Sheffield Theatres and Dr Faustus at Manchester Royal Exchange.
The Lady In The Van runs at the Liverpool Playhouse from 10 - 14 May and at the Lowry from 16 -21 May.
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