Andrew Kay & Associates & Tinderbox Productions, Triumph Entertainment and HVK Productions present
BRENDA BLETHYN & SIGRID THORNTON
IN ALAN BENNETT'S
Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet
The delightful tale of a guileless spinster, who, when her chiropodist retires, finds happy feet with her new specialist. Forced to leave her position in soft furnishings at the local department store, as the primary carer for her disabled brother, Miss Fozzard ventures into an extraordinary relationship with her new podiatrist opening her to a world of new experiences.
Sigrid Thornton performs
Her Big Chance
The story of Lesley, an ambitious yet
somewhat delusional actress in search
of the ever elusive “Big Break”.
Lesley works hard at her craft but needs a
career “leg-up”. Will a chance encounter
at a party provide just that?
Brenda Blethyn is one of Britain’s most celebrated actresses with film credits including her Academy Award Nominated roles in Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies and Little Voice in which she co-starred with screen legend Michael Caine.
Other leading film roles include Pride and Prejudice, Saving Grace, Roald Dahl’s The Witches, and the hugely anticipated hit of the 2006 Sundance Festival, and soon to be released Australian feature Clubland.
Brenda Blethyn was 27 when she applied to Guildford drama college risking everything. Following some early stage experience with the Bubble Theatre and at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, she joined the Royal National Theatre in 1975 where she worked with many of the UK's most acclaimed theatre directors including Peter Hall, Bill Bryden and Peter Wood. Her work at the National included Tamburlaine and Bedroom Farce; The Passion and A Midsummer's Night Dream; The Beaux Strategem and The Provok'd Wife; and Tom Stoppard's Dalliance.
With The Royal Shakespeare Company Brenda’s work included Tales From the Vienna Woods and Alan Ayckbourn's Wildest Dream. She has also worked at the Manchester Royal Exchange where she played Nora in Ibsen's A Doll's House and Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday. She has also played Mrs. Chieverly in Oscar Wilde's Ideal Husband.
Brenda's British television career started in 1980 when she appeared in the BBC2's playhouse presentation of Mike Leigh's Grown-Ups as Gloria, followed by a comedy roles in Yes, Minister alongside Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne, Chance in a Million and The Labours of Erica. Brenda also gave classical performances on television in in King Lear, Henry VI, Part One and she played Angela Foley in the first of the television adaptations of the PD James novels, Death of an Expert Witness. Brenda’s roles in television are extensive, including The Bullion Boys, The Buddah of Suburbia and Outside the Edge which earned her Best Comedy Actress in the 1994 British Comedy Awards.
Along with her film successes, Brenda found time to return to the stage when she appeared on Broadway in Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends for which she won the Theater World Award for Outstanding New Talent; she also won Best Supporting Actress in the British Drama Awards for her performance in Neil Dunn's Steaming in 1996. Brenda is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust charity. She was nominated for an Olivier Award for Michael Blakemore's Benefactors at the Vaudeville Theatre and in 1997 appeared at the Donmar Warehouse in Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus directed by Sam Mendes. In 2002 she appeared at The Strand Theatre, West End, in George Bernard Shaw's Mrs Warren’s Profession directed by Peter Hall.
Brenda’s autobiography, Mixed Fancies, was recently released.
One of Australia’s leading and best loved actresses, she has starred in many TV and film productions that are now regarded as milestones in the Australian industry. Her ABC series, SeaChange, broke all ratings records for the national broadcaster, becoming the No.1 drama show on national television. Her leading roles in The Man from Snowy River and the highly successful mini-series All the Rivers Run resulted in one of the first US network series roles created for an Australian actress in the popular western series Paradise. Sigrid Thornton made her professional stage debut with The Melbourne Theatre Company in Betrayal. Sigrid Thornton starred in the 2004 production of The Blue Room which was one of the most successful plays to tour Australia in recent years.
Sigrid was awarded the highly prestigious Cowboy Hall of Fame award for best TV contribution to Western Heritage for Stray Bullet, an episode of Paradise. She has also won numerous awards in Australia including Logie Awards, Sammy Awards and People’s Choice Awards. Some of Sigrid’s other extensive credits include Little Oberon, The Lighthorsemen, 1915, Snapshot, The Last Outlaw, The Getting Of Wisdom, Slate Wyn & Me, FJ Holden, the mini-series The Boy co-starring Temuera Morrison, The Far Country co-starring Michael York and Great Expectations – The Untold Story co-starring John Stanton for the ABC. She can currently be seen on Channel Nine’s rating’s winner What’s Good For You.
Sigrid has worked extensively behind the cameras on behalf of the film and television industry, the arts and various charities. Some of her activities have included chairing the Victorian Film and TV Taskforce, MC of the Nelson Mandela Reconciliation Concert, board member of the Commercial TV Production Fund, Australian Film Institute board member and Film Victoria board member. Sigrid continues to work extensively for children’s charities and World Vision.
Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, has received world wide acclaim, winning an Evening Standard Award & Critics' Circle Award for Best Play & a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play.
Alan Bennett first appeared on stage in 1960 with Peter Cook, Dudley Morre and Jonathon Miller in the revue Beyond The Fringe. His first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968 and starred John Gieguld as the Headmaster. His play Habeas Corpus opened in 1973 starring Alec Guiness, who also starred in the The Old Country in 1977. Other stage plays include Getting On and Enjoy in 1980, and Kafka’s Dick, which was produced at the Royal Court Theatre in 1986.
Alan Bennett’s work for television includes: A Day Out, Sunset Across The Bay, A Visit From Mrs Protheroe, Me I’m Afraid of Virgina Woolf, Doris and Doreen, The Old Crowd, Afternoon Off, One Fine Day, All Day On The Sands, Intensive Care (in which he played the leading role), Our Winnie Marks, Rolling Home, Say Something Happened, A Woman Of No Importance and the highly acclaimed award-winning An Englishman Abroad, which starred Alan Bates and Coral Browne. His television play The Insurance Man was broadcast by the BBC in 1978, starring Daniel Day Lewis. His collection of monologues Talking Heads, transmitted by the BBC in 1989, received unanimous praise and won the Hawthornden Prize.
His first feature film, A Private Function, starring Maggie Smith and Michael Palin, was released in 1985. His second screenplay, Prick Up Your Ears, received wide acclaim – it was directed by Stephen Frears and starred Gary Oldman (as Joe Orton), Alfred Molina and Vanessa Redgrave.
An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution were produced in December 1988 as a double bill at the Royal National Theatre under the title Single Spies and then transferred to the Queen’s Theatre in the West End, afterwards touring extensively in the UK. BBC Television has subsequently shown the film A Question of Attribution directed by John Schelesinger and starring Jamie Fox.
Bennett’s adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows opened at the Olivier Theatre in December 1990, was remounted by the National Theatre in November in 1991, returned again in 1993 and 1994 and was transferred at the Old Vic at Christmas in 1995. It closed in April 1996 and was then taken out on tour.
Two of the monologues from the Talking Heads collection, A Chip in The Sugar and A Lady Of Letters together with an earlier monologue, A Woman of No Importance opened at the Comedy Theatre in January 1992 starring Patricia Routledge and Alan Bennett who also directed the production. The show won the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Entertainment of the Year and Alan Bennett won the Award for the Most Outstanding Performance of the Year in a Musical or Entertainment.
The Madness of George III, a National Theatre Production, opened at the Lyttelton Theatre in November 1991 with Nigel Hawthorne playing George III. This production toured America in Autumn 1993 and Greece and Israel in 1995. The feature film The Madness Of King George starring Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren, released in 1995, was nominated for two Oscars and was the highest grossing independently released feature film in America during 1995.
Writing Home, his collection of prose writing, was published by Faber in 1994 and has remained on the UK best-sellers list ever since.
Two Talking Heads monologues were presented in Summer 1996 at Chichester Festival Theatre, Bed Among The Lentils with Maggie Smith and Soldiering On with Margaret Tyzack, directed by the author, and transferred to the Comedy Theatre in the West End on 22nd October 1996. Habeas Corpus (directed by Sam Mendes) and starring Brenda Blethyn, was revived at the Donmar Warehouse in 1996.
PW Productions toured Forty Years On to great acclaim in 1997. Kafka’s Dick opened at the Piccadilly Theatre on 19th November 1998 and played in repertoire until February 1999.
Alan Bennett’s second series of Talking Heads monologues was broadcast by the BBC in Autumn 1998 and won the South Bank Show Award for Best Drama.
Alan’s play The Lady In the Van, starring Maggie Smith and directed by Nicholas Hytner, opened at the Queen’s Theatre on 7th December 1999 and closed on 15th July 2000. The Lady In the Van opened at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2001 and ran at West Yorkshire Playhouse in May 2002.
Bed Among The Lentils with Maggie Smith and Soldiering On with Margaret Tyzack, directed by Anthony Page received triumphant reviews in Australia and New Zealand in 2003.
The West Australian
5th October 2007
Review: Ron Banks
Talk to make heads turn
lan Bennett’s latest set of monologues to reach Perth audiences are ironic little tales of female self-delusion.
Not that self-delusion is a necessarily feminine trait but Bennett seems to understand the female psyche much better than other men and creates his characters with a delicious sense of irony and bittersweet sense of disappointment in life.
In the first of the tales, Her Big Chance, Sigrid Thornton plays an out-of-work actress invited by a predatory film director to take part in his obviously B-grade movie which will be released in Germany, and possibly Turkey.
It’s the kind of movie that requires Thornton’s actress Lesley to take off her clothes but Lesley, of course, is blissfully unaware of what will happen during the filming and misinterprets the actions of those making the film.
She is, not to put too fine a point on it, naive and unaware of the ironies of her situation, making generous allowances for the rather compromising role she is asked to play in her determination to maintain her artistic integrity.
It’s vintage Bennett in the way the writer takes the audience into his confidence. Lesley does not know what is going on but we, like priests in the confessional, listen carefully and try not to make moral judgments.
We do, of course, which is the joy of this kind of theatre. We’re privy to what is happening in Lesley’s life and can see how she’s going to come a cropper — if only she could see it herself.
Each of Bennett’s Talking Heads stories is a tour de force for any actress and Thornton delivers her character’s confessions with all the unconscious irony of the truly self-deceiving, at the same time eliciting our sympathies.
There is plenty of irony in Bennett’s second story, Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet, although Brenda Blethyn’s eponymous character ends up rather more knowing about her actions than Thornton’s Lesley.
Miss Fozzard initially suffers from the same sense of delusion as Lesley. She finds all kinds of excuses for the strange behaviour of her new chiropodist, the silver-haired Mr Dunderdale, who offers a little bit more than foot massage. Blethyn’s Miss Fozzard gets most of the laughs in these theatrical exercises, probably because Bennett’s writing explores the kind of extremes we would not expect in relating the travails of a Leeds spinster whose weekly highlight is a visit to the chiropodist.
With a rolling Yorkshire accent, Blethyn becomes the lonely Miss Fozzard from soft furnishings, who is also dealing with the dilemma of how to care for her elderly brother, Bernard, who has just had a stroke.
Bernard needs to learn to walk and talk again and there is grim humour in Miss Fozzard’s candid descriptions of the road to recovery, and the problems of hiring an Australian nurse to look after him.
Bennett’s marvellous ability to evoke despair and disappointment with literally a single line of dialogue quickly turns Miss Fozzard into a sympathetic character.
“People don’t think you have a proper life,” she says at one point, underscoring the loneliness that lies at the heart of her confessions.
“I never thought I had a life,” she adds, at one stroke summing up why she has decided to become complicit with her chiropodist in the behaviour that finally adds some spice to her existence.
Talking Heads is theatre at its most basic — just an actor on a sofa or a padded chair and a few lighting cues. But with Bennett’s wit and wry observation of human nature combined with the talents of two experienced actresses there is a satisfying sense of theatre at its most engaging.