Dame Maggie Lands Two Alan BennettsDate: 18 October 1999
Dame Maggie Smith, who returns to the West End next month in Alan Bennett's new play The Lady in the Van, will star opposite not one but two leading men. The Lady in the Van is based on Bennett's autobiographical book of the same title and features both Nicholas Farrell and Kevin McNally as the author. The play opens at the Queen's Theatre on 7 December, following previews from 19 November.
A spokesperson for the show told Whatsonstage.com that Farrell as 'Alan Bennett 1', and McNally as, rather appropriately, 'Alan Bennett 2' will provide different perspectives on the writer's life but remained cagey about just what those perspectives might be. Farrell's theatre credits include The Strip (Royal Court), Kean (Old Vic), The Cherry Orchard (Aldwych), Crime and Punishment (Lyric Hammersmith) and numerous productions for the RSC. McNally's credits include Naked (Almeida), Dead Funny (Savoy), Exact Change (Lyric Hammersmith) and productions for the National and Royal Court.
Smith plays Miss Shepherd, the lady tramp of the title. When Bennett agreed to allow Shepherd to park her camper van in his front garden at his home in Camden Town, north London, little did he know that what he intended to be a three month stay would turn into fifteen years. The Lady in the Van reunites Smith with Bennett for the first time since she starred in the successful television and stage productions of Bed Among the Lentils, one of Bennett's Talking Heads monologues.
Also in the cast are Elizabeth Bradley, Michael Culkin, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ben Aris, Lorraine Brunning, Michael Poole, William Kettle and Stephen Rashbrook.
The Lady in the Van is directed by Nicholas Hytner who also directed both the award-winning stage and film productions of Bennett's The Madness of George III, starring Nigel Hawthorne, as well as his stage adaptation of The Wind in the Willows at the National Theatre. The Lady in the Van is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound design by Scott Myers. It is produced by Robert Fox.
Smith, an Oscar-winning film actress, is well known for her stage roles. She was last seen in the West End in 1997 when she had a box office hit with a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. She worked with Hytner last in 1993 when she starred in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at the Aldwych.