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28 review for Soldiering On: A Monologue From Talking Heads

  1. 5 out of 5

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    Updated to include some socialist thoughts which might or might not be correct. We meet Muriel just after she has buried her husband. She is the ultimate middle-class lady, pearls and a twinset, always volunteering for some charity or other and with a collection of 'good' pieces of furniture and art. Her husband has left her rather well off and also left their daughter who is mentally ill, well provided for. Giles, their son, has not been left anything. Nonetheless he instructs his mother on what Updated to include some socialist thoughts which might or might not be correct. We meet Muriel just after she has buried her husband. She is the ultimate middle-class lady, pearls and a twinset, always volunteering for some charity or other and with a collection of 'good' pieces of furniture and art. Her husband has left her rather well off and also left their daughter who is mentally ill, well provided for. Giles, their son, has not been left anything. Nonetheless he instructs his mother on what she should do with her inheritance and despite being told by everyone not to make any major decisions quickly, nor understanding anything about finance, she signs whatever Giles wants her to. And thereby loses her money from his poor investments. At least we are led in one way to think they are poor investments, in another it might be that Giles just plain ripped her off because he hadn't been left anything. I really felt for Muriel and was angry the way this play was going, the callousness of her son towards his mother and towards his sister who had to be moved from her comfortable mental home to a council institution. I understood why his father cut him off, but I also understood she loved her son no matter what his faults. Eventually this proud lady always looking on the bright side, is reduced to life in a single room, her only entertainment music borrowed from the library, not even with enough for a regular cup of coffee with a friend and cut off from her grandchildren, Giles children. Her daughter though seems to have made great progress towards rejoining society. I am wondering if this is not the strongly-socialist Alan Bennett implying that the state institution was a proper treatment facility aiming to heal it's patinets as opposed to the comfortable, luxurious even, private nursing home for the mentally disturbed who were more concerned about maintaing their income from regular fees. It is also implied, but not stated, that her father molested her, or worse, as a child, and maybe now he has gone she is recovering. But will she look after her mother? It seems not, it seems she is a selfish girl who is thinking only of herself. At the end Muriel sits in her single room devoid of much furniture, almost a charity case herself, but she grits her teeth and tells us not to think of her story as a tragic one - "I'm not that sort of woman." I loved her for that. She's right. Illegitimi non carborundum aka British stiff upper lip. This monologue displays all of Alan Bennett's usual brilliant characterisation using only simple words and everyday situations. As an actor, he knew how to write for actors and this monologue is even better listened to than read. Review 20/1/2015 Updated 22/1/2015

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  16. 5 out of 5

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  17. 5 out of 5

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  19. 5 out of 5

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  20. 5 out of 5

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  21. 4 out of 5

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  22. 4 out of 5

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  27. 5 out of 5

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