Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Habit of Art

Alan Bennett's play 'The Habit of Art' is transmitted to cinemas in a live broadcast of a performance from the stage of the National Theatre (UK).

The play is a play...within a play. A play in which actors rehearse a play about the poet W H Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten. The pair were close friends from 1935 to 1942 but fell out after their opera, 'Paul Bunyan' flopped in the United States and then meet in Auden's rooms as Britten is composing 'Death in Venice'. Each had a long term same sex relationship.

The play, packed with funny moments and wry observations, touches on theatre life, fragile egos, personal idiosyncrasies and gay sex.

Richard Griffiths as Auden and the delightfully pragmatic Frances de la Tour as the stage manager are standouts whilst Stephen Wight attracted my interest as the rent boy with principles and aspirations.


  1. We might have bumped into each other! Which session did you go to? Mine (Sun 1.30) was packed out with senior filmgoers who all came very early: only seats in the front two rows or at one edge of the third by 15-20 minutes before the start.

    I thought Griffiths wasn't dry enough for WHA, even if he was playing Fitz playing him. As with a few of Bennett's plays and indeed other pieces but in this case more so, the play was more about how it got through than where it got through - ie, what was the message [corny expectation] and how did this relate to [which] ending?

  2. Marcellous: We attended the sold out Saturday (1pm) session.

    Although we planned to arrive early to get reasonable seats we lost track of time eating lunch at the Guylian Chocolate place out the front of the Dendy and the best we could do by the time we got into the cinema was third row from the front.