Screening Alan Bennett’s Allelujah! on the big screen may well alter the viewer’s perspective, placing it within the tradition of television and film drama that lends itself to the cliffhanger-based six-part series that Bennett’s broad and episodic approach calls upon.
I am fully content to hail Alan Bennett as a National Treasure, and while I enjoyed many aspects of Allelujah!, I still hoped for even better and a return to his form in, say, The Madness of George III.
In some ways, Allelujah! is perfectly symptomatic of the problem I have with the Bridge Theatre. Does London really need any new theatres, no matter how much people think they want interval madeleines?
The politics are an Old Labour and North London hybrid and, the hospital on stage is probably more fantasy than NHS reality. But when national treasures do something new, we should all rejoice. Allelujah, indeed.
Allelujah! is not a masterpiece, mainly because most of the characters are underdeveloped and there is too much going on, but it is extremely funny and it has something very urgent to say, and says it without compromise.
A love letter to the NHS, masterfully written by Alan Bennett with lots of lovely touches – the 25-strong cast is impressive and really brings the play to life.
Alan Bennett has perhaps by chance hit two topical news hot-potatoes – barely a week old – even while deliberately tackling more obvious fave targets like NHS cuts and the Thatcher legacy.