Theatre review: The Lady in the Van; Colne Dramatic Society

James Bateman and Marilyn Crowther in Lady in the Van. (s)

James Bateman and Marilyn Crowther in Lady in the Van. (s)

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This week a true-life tale wedding comedy and poignancy is stirring up hearts.

Colne Dramatic Society is presenting Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, a play based on his real-life relationship with the homeless Miss Shepherd, who parks her van on his street.

In this moving story, Bennett invites her to park her vehicle temporarily in his garden to protect her from the abuse of passersby. But the cankerous woman - and all her paranoia, delusions and religious scruples - remain with him for 15 years.

Marilyn Crowther gave a terrific performance in Tuesday night’s showing, capturing all the eccentricities and complexities of Miss Shepherd. Not only landing comic punches, the actress also nailed the vulnerabilities bubbling below her thunderous exterior.

But there was no stand-out performance: all three central roles shone with equal intensity.

Alan Hargreaves and James Bateman respectively played Bennett in his older and younger years. The parallel between the two offered an interest look at the development of his personality.

Both doused the production in comedy: Hargreaves sharpening the playwright’s matured mischievous wit while Bateman smashed both the drier lines and idiosyncrasies of a man caged by timidity and guilt.

A few lines were missed by cast members and the pace was at times a little slow but this barely softened the production’s bittersweet clout.

To catch it tonight or tomorrow, head to The Little Theatre, River Street, Colne, at 7-30pm.

Tickets are £7.50 and can be booked on 01282 861424.