Alan Bennett’s title for his two one-act plays is taken from Hamlet, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions”.
‘An Englishman Abroad’ covers a factual meeting of the Australian-American actress Coral Browne and the ‘Cambridge spy’ Guy Burgess in Moscow in 1958. Miss Browne is touring in Hamlet, visits Burgess in his state-provided flat and observes the shabby circumstances of his exile. Their exchanges are sharp, witty and poignant.
‘A Question of Attribution’, is Bennett’s fantasy on a meeting that never happened. The austere but acerbically witty grandee, Sir Anthony Blunt (‘The Fifth man’) is Keeper of Queen’s Pictures in the late 60’s and we have him trading thoughts on the very essence of fakery and artistic deception with the Queen, who happens on him in a corridor in Buckingham Palace whilst as he hangs a ‘fake’ Titian portrait.
Alan Bennett’s mastery of dry, witty dialogue has never been bettered.
Presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd at Putney Arts Theatre. Head over to their website for availability and to purchase tickets.