The Headmaster has been at Albion House for 50 years, man and boy. Now he is retiring and takes part in the end-of-year entertainment for the last time. Entitled Speak For England, Arthur, it weaves together a multi-generational story of England: the glorious era at the turn of the century, when the summers were always golden; the fast-living inter-war years peopled by the Bloomsbury Group; and the growing cynicism of a country going to war twice in so many decades.
Tongue-in-cheek, the play-within-a-play prompts an outraged response from the Headmaster, who can only see his beloved standards being mocked. Yet within the parody lies an almost-painful nostalgia for a more peaceful age and the timeless misunderstanding of one generation by another.
Clever, funny, and poignant, Alan Bennett's masterful play is rightly regarded as a modern classic.
© and (P)2000 BBC Worldwide Ltd
A brilliantly written and performed work of England dealing with its war-time struggles. A master writer and satirist at work.
"All those years ago"
I was greatly privileged to see Alan Bennett and Sir John Geilgud (as the headmaster) in this creation of his in the West End at the tail-end of the ?swinging sixties? in 1969. This more recent audio recording does justice to the play, with one exception ? only strains of the classic ?The dogs they had a party? can be heard, as the victorious rugby team return. A full rendition was called for! This is a great listen, but be warned ? there is no slapstick stuff here. The humour ranges from the subtle, the laconic, to the lavatorial.
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