ALAN BENNETT’S DIARIES might not have won their Television BAFTA this year but the national treasure has won previously for his TALKING HEADS series (Thora Hird, Best Actress in both 1989 and 1999). Bennett himself was nominated for Best Actor in 1989 for one of those mini-dramas, A CHIP IN THE SUGAR.
Transitioning from the small screen to the stage, a new production of A CHIP IN THE SUGAR is playing at the Bridewell Theatre in London until 26 MAY. This small but beautifully formed show is produced by Vician Productions with a bit of backstage help from us at RADIANT CURCUS. Its limited three-week run is part of the Bridewell’s acclaimed Lunchbox programme: bitesize performances for busy City workers, residents and tourists.
Bennett’s paired-back monologue tells a funny and touching tale of Graham Whittaker, a middle-aged bachelor who still lives at home with his mother. When she meets an old flame, Graham’s world is turned upside down as his past insecurities come back to haunt him. Originally broadcast in 1987 amidst the racial tension, homophobia and lack of compassion for mental health issues that characterised the era, A CHIP IN THE SUGAR deals with themes that still clamour for our attention 30 years later.
It has been 50 years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised in the United Kingdom. Despite significant social change, equality and, perhaps more importantly, safety for LGBT communities are still frustratingly elusive. These themes are reinforced in Bennett’s writing by his tender study of Graham’s mental ill-health – a possible cause or consequences of his repressed existence. Our show had the privilege of opening in national Mental Health Awareness Week (8 to 12 MAY each year) and we like to think we’ve done our little bit to highlight this social issue (and perpetual political dodgeball).
This is the first – we hope – of many RADIANT CIRCUS projects to come. Despite our fondness for old-fashioned cinema, we’re excited that screens aren’t fixed anymore: their creative content spills its light across all aspects of our lives from the handhelds in our pockets to the stages we gather around and the streets we walk along.
Dragging our blog into the real world, we want to harness the power of the screen and screened stories to make beautiful things happen, whether that’s helping like-minded people shelter from the storm or finding new ways to tell the stories of our time.
As A CHIP IN THE SUGAR enters its final week at the Bridewell, we’d be delighted if you could join us for this wonderful play.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- A CHIP IN THE SUGAR runs at the Bridewell Theatre until 26 MAY (Tues – Fri 1pm). Book online or call 0207353 3331 (Mon – Fri 10am to 6pm).
- Read more about Alan Bennett’s sublime TALKING HEADS.
- Learn more about mental health awareness.
- Find somewhere – and someone – to talk to about homosexuality and gender issues.