In the 1970s, an eccentric old lady called Miss Shepherd lived in an old van opposite Alan Bennett's house. That is until new parking regulations come into force. He suggested moving the van onto his driveway. The resulting odd relationship - not quite a friendship - lasted for 20 years until Miss Shepherd's death. The play is based on entries from Bennett's diaries of the period. Bennett uses the situation to explore the line between acceptable and unacceptable mental illness; the troubling contrast between his care of Miss Shepherd vs. comparative neglect of his own mother; and the various ways in which even the officially sane can deny reality.
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Alan Bennett was first on stage with the Oxford Theatre Group in 1959. He collaborated on the revue Beyond the Fringe, which opened in Edinburgh in 1960 and then to the West End and Broadway. His collection of diary entries, essays and reviews, Writing Home (1994) was a bestseller. His other works include: The Wind in the Willows for the National Theatre, The Madness of George III, and Talking Heads.Review:
"...a wonderfully bittersweet comic diary of the years in which a lethally dotty and very smelly old bat parked her unroadworthy vehicle in Bennett's Camden garden, thereby providing him with a roughly equal amount of good journalistic copy and guilty landlordly irritation." Sheridan Morley, Spectator"
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