Talking Heads still heard today

The alcoholic and Godless wife of a vicar, a curtain-twitching meddler who finds happiness in prison, the middle-aged bachelor who thinks his mother is being swept off her feet by a suspicious admirer and a widow who is fighting to keep herself out of an old people’s home. Four of 12 seemingly remarkable, yet ordinary characters who make up Alan Bennett’s two series of ground-breaking TV monologues back in the 1980s and 90s, a few of which are being brought to the stage by The Algarveans Experimental Theatre Group this October.

Despite a script for just one voice, each play is peopled with vivid additional characters and dramatic action, so vivid that years later some viewers and theatregoers falsely remember seeing “off-screen” characters.

The heart-breaking and hilarious stories were a big hit with TV audiences who saw ordinary folk like them grappling with indignities, dilemmas and disasters.

Chris Winstanley, the show’s director, has spent the summer putting the production together and converting it to the stage. He said: “This is a really exciting venture for The Algarveans as the scripts were written for television and have no stage directions, lighting cues, props list … so we have had to build it from scratch. It has been great fun to do.”

Recently on Radio 4 in the UK, and currently available to listen to on BBC Radio Player as a podcast, radio journalist Sue Macgregor presented a programme called “The Reunion” which reunited Alan Bennett with some of the original cast and directors. It details how Bennett had to twist the arm of many of those who he wanted to be involved as there was great scepticism, at the time, as to whether the shows would work. Little did anyone realise how the stories are still relevant to today’s society. In fact, a professional sell-out tour of the monologues has just finished in the UK.

“Talking Heads” will be performed in the beautiful and intimate surroundings of the Teatro Mascarenhas Gregório in Silves on October 27, 28 and 29 starting at 7.45pm. The group are expecting the show to sell out due to the limited capacity at the theatre, so early booking is advised.

This production is being staged in co-production with the Câmara Municipal de Silves.

Tickets at €12 are available by email at [email protected] or by calling 913 723 611, 966 211 634 or 282 496 635.