Alan Bennett’s People comes to The Spring in Havant courtesy of HumDrum

Lauren Farnhill and Lin Warner in rehearsal for People by HumDrum
Lauren Farnhill and Lin Warner in rehearsal for People by HumDrum

HumDrum are back at The Spring in Havant next week, riding the crest of the wave having recently won the Best Drama for their Dracula in the 2018 Guide Awards, with a little-know play by the ever-popular Alan Bennett.

It’s called People and was selected for performance for a very good reason.

Director Caz Gilmore explains: ‘Like every other local theatre company, we have to keep an eye on the bank-account! We like to perform the kinds of pieces that other companies perhaps won’t – to offer up the less-frequently performed pieces to theatre enthusiasts in the area. However, we frequently find that with those lesser-known pieces come smaller audiences and there comes a dangerous point when more money is going into producing the pieces than is being brought in from the performances.

‘As a company we made a conscious decision to do a year’s worth of what we hope are crowd-pleasers – and Alan Bennett can go to the top of that particular list!’

HumDrum have tackled Bennett’s work several times already. The Madness of King George, Talking Heads and Habeas Corpus have been performed over the years and Caz points out the vast range of his work. ‘He goes from the serious historical analysis of King George to the saucy, seaside postcard humour of Habeas Corpus and the wonderful character-studies in Talking Heads. Now that’s a playwright!’

People is about two elderly women who live in a large, dilapidated stately home.

They love living there but can’t afford the upkeep of the house.

The National Trust is waiting in the wings to step in and fossilise the place, but that’s not what the ladies want. 

However, forces are massing against them and they have to come up with a plan to finance their staying put.

What better than allowing a film-company to use it as a location?

The fun begins when the film company arrives and it becomes apparent that the films they produce are considerably bluer than, say, the Hardyesque films the ladies may have imagined.

Playing the friends are HumDrum stalwart, Lin Warner and newcomer to the company, Lauren Farnhill.

Lauren, however, is no stranger to the stage having been a driving force behind the Southsea Shakespeare Actors for many years both as actor and director.

‘The added joy is that – although I didn’t know it at the time I cast them – Lauren and Lin are cousins’, says Caz.

And, it turns out, that it’s the first time the cousins have acted together.

Says Lin: ‘I know! To get to this great age and never to have acted together. It’s been lovely, a pleasure.’

The rest of this year’s HumDrum season comprises Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense in June and Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web in October.

People

The Spring Arts Centre, Havant

March 13-16

thespring.co.uk