37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Even better than I remembered, 26 April 2010
I had a specific reason for investing in this collection: I am shortly to appear on Mastermind answering questions on my specialist subject, the Televesion Plays of Alan Bennett. There are 32 plays in all, and revision has so far consisted in reading the published texts of two earlier series, namely The Writer in Disguise and Objects of Affection, and the two series of famous monologues, Talking Heads. This 4-disc set happily fills in most of the gaps not covered by those volumes. The plays are A Day Out and Sunset Across the Bay from the 1970s, A Visit from Miss Prothero, Our Winnie, A Woman of No Importance (the first of the dramatic monologues he wrote, and an immediate classic), An Englishman Abroad about the spy Guy Burgess, The Insurance Man (about Kafka), 102 Boulevard Haussmann (Proust), and A Question of Attribution featuring a marvellous central dialogue between Royal spy Sir Anthony Blunt (the ever-reliable James Fox) and HMG (Prunella Scales with pitch-perfect accent). Each play is introduced by the author, and the fourth disc also includes the wry and insightful little documentary Portrait or Bust, following Mr Bennett on a visit to Leeds Art Gallery. My only regret is that there was no room to include one of his very best and most characteristic TV plays, Intensive Care - but to bemoan its lack when so many other riches are on offer would be churlish. While Mr Bennett's plays are never quite as cosy as we sometimes think - possibly because they always sound so real, they seem just like life as we know it - for insight, clear-eyed compassion, and an uncanny ear for dialogue, they are unrivalled.