Review: Story of A Great Lady

MILO YIANNOPOULOS: ‘subtle, intelligent and sympathetic performances’ made an ‘hour-long meditation on the fate of three lonely, middle-aged Northern women’

ADC Alan Bennett Story of A Great Lady Tamara Astor

Wednesday 5th – Saturday 8th, 11.00 at the ADC. £4-6. 

The set for Story of a Great Lady is less than impressive. It looks like something hastily cobbled together for a sixth form assembly by an elderly maths teacher. Fortunately, however, subtle, intelligent and sympathetic performances from each of the three girls in the show rendered such things irrelevant.

There is a marvellous, earthy domesticity to this short play, strongly reminiscent of Alan Bennett. Pregnancy, putative lesbianism, cancer and domestic violence are all touched upon with that same sensitivity and realism that has made Talking Heads such a classic and adored piece of television. 

Little in the way of plot an be called significant or instructively relayed by the critic. Better to think of this hour-long meditation on the fate of three lonely, middle-aged Northern women as a peek through the curtain; an admiring peek at the fortitude of which ordinary people are quietly capable.

Charming writing was matched by some beautiful acting, especially from Tamara Astor, playing Fran, to whom I give special mention in part because her accent was so impressively consistent.

Late shows at the ADC are one of the great pleasures of the Cambridge theatre scene. Last night's Story of a Great Lady was a perfect example of the neat, well-observed and attractive shows on offer. Funny, charming and occasionally moving. A lovely treat before bed.