A decade after Alan Bennett's acclaimed first series of Talking Heads comes the eagerly anticipated follow up. Six more compassionate and acutely observed monologues performed by a terrific cast. Patricia Routledge, Julie Walters and Thora Hird all feature for a second time as, again using five women narrators alongside a solitary male, Bennett nags away at his pet obsessions in his own inimitable style. On the surface there is the usual mixture of chiropody, northern suburban life and an unnatural interest in soft furnishings. But underneath the semi- genteel facade lies the quiet agony of lives blighted and hopes dashed. An air of utter sadness pervades all these pieces from Miss Fozzard, who is quite straightforwardly transformed from a middle-aged and respectable spinster into a sort of foot fetish prostitute, to Celia, sitting alone in her shabby antique shop. Even after he had finished writing them Bennett says he: "left them in a drawer for a year as I felt they were too gloomy to visit upon the public". He needn't have worried. Gloomy or joyful doesn't matter so much as telling the truth and these wonderful monologues tell the truth. --Nick Wroe
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