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These marvellous television plays are not all available on DVD sadly, and one can only hope that the BBC will put them out to mark Alan Bennett's 80th birthday - it seems amazing that Me! I'm afraid of Virginia Woolf has never been released on DVD or VHS, as far as I know. It is my favourite of Bennett's plays, in fact it's the best thing I've ever seen on TV, I think! Intensive Care runs it a close second, also not available. But having the scripts of these superb dramas (not Intensive Care in this volume) gives you the essence, while making you aware of how much the performed versions are a collaboration between playwright and actor. He seems to get exactly the right note for the actor he is writing for, resulting in play after play of the most wonderful insights and joy-giving tone. There is also a surprising range, going from the touching portrait based to some extent on his parents, Sunset Across The Bay, to the early A Day Out, about a cycling club's excursion to Fountain's Abbey back in 1911. A Visit From Miss Prothero meanwhile mines a rich seam of observation in the workplace as does Green Forms, while The Old Crowd is a Bunuelian study of the middle classes over a dinner party, complete with Brechtian views of the film crew. Yet for all the range you can feel the common thread of Bennett's generous spirit, both spot-on and well-disposed towards his characters. Reading the lines again can allow you to enjoy the wit as if you were watching it, while small changes from the script also add interest, showing you how the filming of anything is a living process subject to change at the last minute. Having the book is altogether a great asset.
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on 6 December 2009
I remember seeing this play on TV along with others by AB such as Doris and Doreen - how come these have never been released on DVD - they were amazing. Would so love to see them again
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