Alan Bennett’s “The Lady in the Van,” first published in the London Review in 1989, makes its U.S. debut at Yuba College March 12 through March 28.
Annie Thomas was cast as the lead role. “I have very few previous experiences in acting,” said Thomas. “All that I have been involved in have been here at Yuba College.”
Thomas said that this is the most difficult play that she has ever been part of, mostly due to scene changes and a lack of continuity.
This story is based on actual events, about a lady by the name of Miss Shepherd. Bennett first became acquainted with Miss Shepherd in the late sixties. In the play she is constantly teased and tormented by everyone from teenage boys to Bennett’s middle class neighbors who do not want her bringing down the tone of the street.
Miss Shepherd moves into Bennett’s Camden Town neighborhood, parked in his garden where she plans to stay for three months and ends up staying for fifteen years.
The play is the story of a relationship that developed between Bennett and Miss Shepherd, from their first encounter to Miss Shepard’s death. The play examines the lives of these two lonely, difficult people who provide humor through quirkiness.
In a 1994 postscript Bennett described “The Lady in the Van” as being condensed from his many diary entries.
Brandon Noonan, who plays the young Alan Bennett, said, “The play helps us to realize our inner memories that we try to throw away.”
Thomas concluded, “Everyone who attends the show will walk away with a great deal of knowledge about growing older and being kind.”