Patients’ singalongs and Alan Bennett’s stinging wit light up a state-of-the-nation play set on a geriatric ward.
“Leaves you bobbing on a wave of happiness.”
“Sharp, funny and subversively political.”
The Beth, an old fashioned cradle-to-grave hospital serving a town on the edge of the Pennines, is threatened with closure as part of an efficiency drive. A documentary crew, eager to capture its fight for survival, follows the daily struggle to find beds on the Dusty Springfield Geriatric Ward, and the triumphs of the old people’s choir.
In this richly discursive play, Alan Bennett hits his own chosen targets. An immigrant doctor, depending on a student visa, is threatened with deportation and rebuked for his hands-on care. The hospital’s attempt to survive is tied up with publicity gimmicks and the renaming of wards after pop stars. But, this being a Bennett play, there is a wealth of good jokes and a deceptive patina of nostalgia. The classic songs, arranged by George Fenton and sung by the patients, are proof of the durability of age and a poignant reminder of a lost happiness.
Alan Bennett’s celebrated plays include The History Boys, The Lady in the Van and The Madness of George III, all of which were also seen on film. Allelujah! is his tenth collaboration with award-winning director Nicholas Hytner.
UK 2018, 163 min, rated M (offensive language & sexual references), incl one intermission
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Starring Samuel Barnett, Sam Bond, Jacqueline Chan, Sacha Dhawan, Patricia England, Deborah Findlay, David Moorst, Jeff Rawle, Cleo Sylvestre & Gary Wood