Lady in the Van & Peggy Announce ClosuresDate: 30 May 2000
Two plays by two Alans starring two great ladies of the theatre have both announced their closures. Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith, will close on 15 July while Alan Plater's Peggy for You, starring Maureen Lipman, will close on 10 June.
The Lady in the Van brings to life Bennett's book about the real-life character Miss Shepherd (played by Smith), a lady tramp who parked her camper van in the front garden of the author's home and stayed for fifteen years. Smith was nominated for a Best Actress Olivier this year for her performance.
There were some rumours that the play's run might be extended with a new cast. Those plans seem to have been abandoned, but the story may be filmed instead. The Lady in the Van, directed by Nicholas Hytner, opened at the Queen's Theatre on 7 December 1999, previews from 19 November. It will conclude at the end of its current booking period.
Peggy for You is also a very personal homage to a great lady who influenced the author. In this case, Plater pays tribute to Peggy Ramsay (played by Lipman), one of Britain's most celebrated literary agents for more than thirty years until her death in 1991. During her reign, Ramsay, a famously mercurial character, represented some of Britain's leading playwrights, including Joe Orton, Caryl Churchill, Christopher Hampton, David Hare, Stephen Poliakoff, and Plater himself.
Peggy for You, directed by Robin Lefevre, gives an account of an imaginary day in the life of Ramsay at her prime. It premiered at the fringe Hampstead Theatre at the end of last year then transferred to the West End's Comedy Theatre on 1 February, following previews from 27 January 2000. It had been booking to mid-July but will now close in June after a run of four and a half months.