Pair return again for play of Englishness

(left to right) Andy Bumfrey and Rick Reid rehearsing for The Old Country, at Titchfield Festival Theatre from October 26 - November 5.
(left to right) Andy Bumfrey and Rick Reid rehearsing for The Old Country, at Titchfield Festival Theatre from October 26 - November 5.
The Kings Theatre, Southsea

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What is Englishness? What makes us English? These questions will be answered in Titchfield Festival Theatre’s new production of The Old Country.

Alan Bennett’s classic play confronts what makes our unique characteristics; embarrassment, class, irony, and that politeness that everyone harks on about.

Starring Andy Bumfrey and Rick Reid, the two men performed together in Titchfield’s last production of Frankenstein, as the assistant and Dr Frankenstein.

With Andy playing Hilary, a British spy in exile in the Soviet Union, and Rick playing Duss, his recently knighted brother-in-law, family and friends are forced to think about their allegiances.

Director Martin Crawley says: ‘The play is in many ways a typical Bennett play. His use of English is beguiling. His word-play is delicious and he deals with one of his favourite subjects; spies and what it takes to betray one’s country.

‘In doing so he takes a swipe at the ‘ruling’ class, at their mendacity and thoughtlessness and comfortably makes the point that education doesn’t equal intelligence nor does it necessarily confer wisdom or loyalty.’

But really Martin took the job of directing because he ‘likes a challenge,’ but starting a new job at the same time isn’t making rehearsals all that easy.

Currently in Oslo, he explains: ‘I find myself travelling more than I expected. It’s a pain but I have a great and experienced cast, and they are taking up the slack along with a couple of stand-in directors.’

Tickets cost £7 to £9 from Titchfield Festival Theatre on (01329) 556156 or go to titchfieldfestivaltheatre.com.