Review: People, The Showroom

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THIS new play by Alan Bennett was screened live to a massive global audience from the National Theatre on London’s South Bank in an event sponsored by Aviva.

Reclusive grand dame Lady Dorothy Stacpoole (a fabulous Frances de la Tour), lives in a decaying South Yorkshire country home with her comically eccentric companion (Linda Bassett).

Her sister, a church archdeacon (Selina Cadell), wants her to sign the place over to the National Trust but Lady Dorothy resists, not wanting ‘people’ to break in on her self-imposed seclusion.

Eventually one of her old flames turns up, wanting to use the place to shoot a porn film, and the movie crew bring her and her home briefly back to life again.

The play has sizzling dialogue and hilarious visual touches. Director Nicholas Hytner expertly guides his heavyweight cast.

Lady Dorothy declares she hates metaphors but that’s exactly what she and the house are. Both represent a desire to let things decay and a hatred for a world created by Thatcher, where everything is valued solely by what it is worth.

Bennett also shows his anger at the National Trust’s desire to package history up into a neat visitor experience – including Lady Dorothy herself.

Julia Armstrong