Alan Bennett’s two key roles in Harrogate actors’ play

Charlie Spencer as a young Alan Bennett
Charlie Spencer as a young Alan Bennett

Yorkshire’s own playwright Alan Bennett is featured in the famous Lady in the Van, due to be performed by Woodlands Drama Group, at Harrogate Theatre’s Studio later this month.

The cast of 10 includes actors Charlie Spencer and Ian Clarke, both of who will play the two lead Alan Bennett roles.

Adapted from his original short story for the stage in 1999 and, again, for the cinema, in 2015, Bennett’s play tells the colourful story of how the cantankerous Miss Shepherd – playe dby Pat Bickerton – managed to park her malodorous van in his drive for over 15 years.

Born in Leeds, and educated at Leeds Modern School, Bennett’s special talent has always been his translation of every day observations into tragicomic dramas.

His work fearlessly removes the covers of the British class system and the north-south divide, with wry and hilarious results.

Bursting on to the nation’s awareness with the comedy revenue, Beyond the Fringe, in 1960, he co-authored and starred with Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore, before writing his first play Forty Years On, in 1968. He has rarely been away from theatre and screen, since, and is still writing at age 84.

Many of his other well-known works are also set in Yorkshire, including The History Boys.

Earlier this year, his new play, Allelujah!, about a NHS geriatric ward, showcased the battles of a Yorkshire-based hospital.

In Writing Home and Untold Stories, his best-selling diaries and reminiscences bring the towns and cities of Yorkshire to life, as he looks back on his strong ties with his home county.

Lady in the Van runs from Wednesday November 28 to Saturday December 1, daily at 7.45pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Book: 01423 502 116.