Alan Bennett’s Play Not Ageing As Well As Richard Wilson
It was a pleasure to see Richard Wilson performing in Forty Years On by Alan Bennett at Chichester Festival Theatre. Age and illness have not diminished his rich voice, his comic timing or his arched eyebrow.
Sadly Alan Bennett’s play hasn’t aged as well as Mr Wilson. It’s not that it doesn’t have plenty of funny moments but it lacks the cohesion it may once have had when the mishmash of recalled events led to the present day. Now it seems more like random sketches from a random period in the past.
Even the concept of an old guard defending traditions against a new radical generation expressed in the form of a retiring headmaster versus his successor seems dated with the liberal hegemony now under attack by neoliberals.
On the plus side, it was a splendid set by Lez Brotherston replicating a school hall and the actors playing the main ‘boys’ were strong and funny.