Alan Bennett’s Office Suite, Lowry

Green Forms, the second in Alan Bennett’s Office Suite double-billThough I’m told he’s rather cold in the flesh, there can be little doubt that Alan Bennett is our greatest living writer. And his Office Suite double-bill, A Visit from Miss Prothero and Green Forms (aka Doris and Doreen), which finds gentle comedy in the observation of tedium, is wonderful.

This was very much a 1970s office experience, which was okay with this audience who kind of sighed when one character said she wished life would stop changing and remain just exactly as it is for a while

The Lowry’s Lyric theatre was sold out and packed with sycophants who applauded as Patricia Routledge took to the stage, just like the studio audience used to do for the Fonz in Happy Days. And while I could find no fault with Routledge’s performance that did make me cringe as I cannot stand Keeping Up Appearances.

The most I’ve watched of this alleged comedy was on a television studies course back in 1991, where it was held up as an example of all that was tired and derivative in mainstream British situation comedy. Only one attendee (who obviously hadn’t read her course notes) laughed, while the rest of us found ourselves magicked back to Sunday nights as bored teenagers sitting on our parents’ sofas wondering where we would find the strength to wait for lives to begin.

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