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Alan Bennett’s The Lady In The Van to be performed by Robin Hood Theatre Company at Averham

The famous true story of The Lady In The Van will be retold by Robin Hood Theatre Company in their latest production this week.

Alan Bennett’s story is staged at the Robin Hood Theatre, Averham, from Tuesday to Saturday, at 7.30pm plus a Saturday matinee.

In April 1974, Miss Shepherd drove her dilapidated van into Alan Bennett’s front garden in genteel Camden. Originally expected to stay for a few weeks, she remained there for 15 years.

A well-known local itinerant and eccentric with poor mental health, Mary Shepherd was described by Alan Bennett as “a bigoted, blinkered, cantankerous, devious, unforgiving, self-centred, rank, rude, car-mad cow”. The play examines their relationship which remains tense but even Miss Shepherd’s uncompromising selfishness becomes an entertaining and lovable flaw – possibly.

Based on real events, with liberal doses of imaginative dramatisation, Alan Bennett’s relationship with his unwelcome guest reveals as much about him and the conflicting sides of his personality, as it does about the unconventional, demanding, dictatorial , fervently religious and delusional occupant of The Van.

Miss Shepherd emerges from this wonderfully warm-hearted romp as a perversely lovable and profoundly poignant figure, albeit utterly cantankerous.

The play is written as a series of sketches where time becomes elastic; the audience drops in on conversations with Alan Bennett's mother, doctors and ne’er-do-wells and then seamlessly ricochet many months, even years ahead to continue a meeting with a social worker or neighbours passing his window.

Performances are at 7.30pm every night with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets costing £12 (£10 members) are available from the Robin Hood Theatre Company website.

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