THE LADY IN THE VAN at Bath Theatre Royal

17th August – 2nd September.

The Lady in the Van is classic Alan Bennett, touching, uplifting and wonderfully funny. In 1974, Miss Mary Shepherd, a homeless woman, temporarily moved her clapped out Bedford van into Alan Bennett’s front garden at Gloucester Crescent, Camden. She remained parked there for the next fifteen years. The genuinely eccentric gate-crasher claims at various times to be a trained concert pianist, an ex-nun and on the run. She founds her own political party and the Virgin Mary appears to her regularly. Described by her reluctant landlord as “a bigoted, cantankerous, devious, unforgiving, self-centred, rank, rude, car-mad cow”, she was to become one of Bennett’s best-loved characters. Alan Bennett’s multi award-winning works include Single Spies, Talking Heads, The Madness of George III, The History Boys and Enjoy.

Sara Kestelman is one of the greatest actors of her generation, currently working at the absolute pinnacle of her extraordinary talent. Her recent performance in Filthy Business at Hampstead Theatre has received superlative reviews: “one of the performances of the year” (Daily Telegraph), “as slyly funny as any actress alive…she left me feeling weak with laughter… Kestelman will be competing for this year’s Best Actress gongs” (Independent).

In her distinguished career she won the Olivier Award as Fraulein Schneider in Sam Mendes’s production of Cabaret and has played a plethora of leading roles with the National Theatre and RSC.