What begins as a begrudgingly conceded favour becomes a relationship that transforms both their lives, as Bennett (Alex Jennings) uncovers the true identity of his cantankerous lodger and the painful personal history that has led to her present living conditions. Shot in and around Alan Bennett’s old house in Camden Town, director Nicholas Hytner reunites with the true life Alan Bennett, with whom he previously collaborated on The Madness of King George and The History Boys – films both adapted from works by Bennett – to bring this touching, idiosyncratic and ultimately life-affirming story to the screen.
Frances de la Tour, Roger Hallam and Deborah Findlay lend wonderful support as Bennett’s disconcerted neighbours.
“Hugely entertaining, big-hearted and funny” Time Out London
“Smith’s performance, honed from the previous stage and radio versions, is terrifically good. Her Miss Shepherd never says thank you or allows any charitable deed to go unpunished…Alex Jennings gives a sharp and sympathetic performance as Bennett…The lady in the van might have been a kind of muse: the driving force behind [Bennett’s] dramatic work, with its brilliant insights into loneliness and age.” The Guardian
The Lady in the Van
9 Jul - 18 Jul
Director Nicholas Hytner (The Crucible) directs playwright Alan Bennett’s adaptation of his memoir and stage play. Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey’s redoubtable Dowager Countess) recreates one of her most celebrated stage roles as the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins based on a real life counterpart, who ‘temporarily’ parked her clapped out van in Alan Bennett’s North London drive-way but who proceeded to stay for fifteen years.