‘Allelujah!’ review

Theatre, Drama Bridge Theatre , Bermondsey Until Friday September 28 2018
3 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(34user reviews)
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© Manuel Harlan Samuel Barnett (Colin)
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© Manuel Harlan Nadine Higgin (Cliff), Gwen Taylor (Lucille), Patricia England (Mavis), Cleo Sylvestre (Cora)
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© Manuel Harlan Deborah Findlay (Sister Gilchrist) and Gary Wood (Fletcher)
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© Manuel Harlan Jeff Rawle (Joe) and David Moorst (Andy) 
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© Manuel Harlan Louis Mahoney (Neville) and Cleo Sylvestre (Cora)
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© Manuel Harlan Sacha Dhawan (Dr Valentine) and Julia Foster (Mary) 
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© Manuel Harlan Sacha Dhawan (Dr Valentine) and Samuel Barnett (Colin)
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© Manuel Harlan Sacha Dhawan (Dr Valentine) and Simon Williams (Ambrose)
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© Manuel Harlan Simon Williams (Ambrose), Sue Wallace (Hazel), Gwen Taylor (Lucille), Julia Foster (Mary)and Jeff Rawle (Joe)
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© Manuel Harlan Deborah Findlay (Sister Gilchrist)
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© Manuel Harlan Patricia England (Mavis), Sacha Dhawan (Dr Valentine), Julia Foster (Mary) 
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© Manuel Harlan Manish Gandhi (Ramesh) 
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© Manuel Harlan

Alan Bennett mounts a quietly furious attack on Britain’s culture of uncaring

Eighty-four years old and still a walloping commercial draw, all-round National Treasure Alan Bennett is undimmed by the years, but not unconcerned by them.

Set in the geriatric ward of ailing Yorkshire hospital the Bethlehem, ’Allelujah!’ is less a play about Bennett’s own mortality – he did that in his last one, ’People’ – but rather that of his peers. And from gentle beginnings, it’s underpinned by an increasing rage about the state of this country – its ailing social care system, and its deteriorating sense of compassion.

It’s a slow start, as we’re introduced to a large cast of elderly Bethlehem patients – who occasionally burst into faux-whimsical song and dance that partially distracts from the many physical indignities they are made to suffer – surrounded by a more acerbically-drawn array of hospital staff and visitors, including a camera crew notionally out to make a heartwarming documentary about the place.

Bennett tartly touches on a lot of topics, from gentrification to NHS privatisation to London-centricity to the ‘hostile environment’ policy; above all, Britain’s wretched social care – most of these old-timers are still in the Bethlehem because there’s nowhere to discharge them to.

You wouldn’t necessarily say there was a plot, though: there are simply too many characters, many little more than tart ciphers (see Samuel Barnett’s shithead civil servant, Colin). Successfully luring his long-term collaborator Bennett over to his new Bridge Theatre, director Nicholas Hytner’s keeps things as coherent as he can, but the first half largely coasts by on the author’s towering wit.

Or at least it does until the flat-out brilliant – and extremely funny – scene just before the interval. It suddenly throws ‘Allelujah!’ into unexpectedly clear focus, with Deborah Findlay’s stern Sister Gilchrist emerging as the antagonist, for reasons it’s probably best not to divulge.

That twist both pulls the play together and turns it on its head. Any idea that Bennett might be romanticising the Bethlehem is immediately put to rest. And the tone shifts to a more darkly farcical one, swapping the initial gentleness for something tougher and weirder.

In a sense it’s difficult to know how to judge late-Bennett work, when the temptation is to simply be delighted he’s making work at all. ‘Allelujah!’ isn’t one of his great plays, but it’s hopefully not indulging in sentiment to say it is a pretty good one once it gets going. He remains a totally singular voice, and – crucially – extremely funny. As it picks up steam, ‘Allelujah!’ feels less like a gentle comedy, and more like a quiet curse on the country Bennett has chronicled his entire life.

By: Andrzej Lukowski

Posted:

Venue name: Bridge Theatre
Address: Bridge Theatre
One Tower Bridge
London
SE1 2SD
Price: £15-£65. Runs 2hr 35min
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    • Bridge Theatre £15-£65. Runs 2hr 35min Buy tickets
    • Bridge Theatre £15-£65. Runs 2hr 35min Buy tickets
    • Bridge Theatre £15-£65. Runs 2hr 35min Buy tickets
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Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:10
  • 3 star:14
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|34
1 person listening
tastemaker

´Nobody likes old people, even old people don’t like old people!´ Welcome to the geriatric ward of a British hospital in a new play from Alan Bennett. This is well written, witty and about people we rarely see on stage. Another good point, it takes place in the Bridge theatre, one of the best rated theatre in London. Highly recommended.

tastemaker

Being an NHS employee, the show synopsis didn't inspire too much enthusiasm but I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The story centers on a geriatric (elderly) ward in a small local hospital threatened by closure. It touches on most of the acute issues that the NHS is facing: lack of funding, beds, social care and staffing. These issues seemed like beating a dead horse to me, but my non-medical friend didn't find this to be a problem. What I enjoyed most about the show was its warmth, provided by the elderly patients in the ward. You can't help but smile as they sang and dance as part of a choir in a campaign to save the ward. The actors were great, especially Deborah Findlay in the key role of matron Sister Gilchirst. Although you could see the dark plot twist coming from a mile away, it was still an enjoyable light-hearted play that lifts the spirit.

Tastemaker

I wasn't expecting that much from the show before I stepped in but I can say I utterly enjoyed every moment of it! The acting was impeccable and the story was so real. It was touching at times, saddening at others, and even had its funny moments. I really think this is a play for young and old, even though I predominantly saw older folks in the audience. Someone else who watched the play commented "you really have to understand Alan Bennett to enjoy this". I really doubt it. I think you would love it whether or not you understand Alan Bennett. You just have to understand life and all its demands and frailties to get the play!

Tastemaker

It's easy to underestimate Alan Bennett's new play, as from the outset it seems to be taking a whimsical stroll down a highly stereotyped path. While to a large extent this theme does continue, there is quite a dark twist which, as well as spicing things up a bit, may also have you questioning the morality of the way it is handled; well it did for me! Set in the fictional Bethlehem NHS Hospital in Yorkshire, the play focuses on the geriatric ward, and the potential fate of its longterm residents should the hospital be forced to close. As such, a large proportion of the cast are of pensionable age, a trait shared by Bennet himself, and also much of the audience. Given this fact it does seem rather a shame that interms of what you take away the darker side overshadows the lighter-hearted moments, thus tainting what's left to dwell on. I could be wrong here, but if I were of similar age I think I'd have found the whole thing rather depressing. Having said that it is speckled with funny moments throughout, a great script with witty lines galore and great and memorable performances by the sizable cast.

tastemaker

This play really wasn't me, the acting of the pensioners was fabulous and I loved their singing! Made the play really cosy and sweet to begin with! I was just getting in to the play by the end of the first half when they threw in an unnecessary plot twist. Unnecessary because they just seemed to be throwing every plotline that they could into a hospital drama- it felt like 4/5 episodes of casualty rolled into one show.

Each of the storylines were all important for the time we live in, NHS privatisation, immigration, "angels of death", taking care of our aging population, even a little smattering of the Me too movement- but focusing on one would have made a MUCH bigger impact and would have made the play less convoluted!

On top of all this, the audio aids from the theatre seemed to not be working or were incredibly loud. I was sitting next to a few people using them and all I could hear was the echoes of the actors all around me, whilst trying to concentrate and what was being said on the stage.

I guess this wasn't one of Alan Bennet's finest hours and was definitely no "History Boys".

Tastemaker

Allelujah is an incredibly interesting piece of theatre that's well worth a watch.


It starts out as a funny, light-hearted musical, that slowly hooks you in and makes you fall in love with its older cast. Moments of happiness, kindness and humour you can't resist.


You'll have to wait until the end of act 1 to realise the true purpose of the play. Revealing that the charming surface is only a camouflage for a much harsher reality, the shift between the 2 acts is what makes the play so gripping. Slowly dissecting the problems with our current state of affairs, it becomes a subversive piece, created to make you think. Each character represents a section of our society, with their desires, wants and will – and ultimately their own agenda. How these characters clash, argue and somehow destroy each other is a telling metaphor for what Bennett deems to be so wrong in today's Britain.


If the storyline could do with a little finessing, its sharp commentary of the state of our nation pushes you to think past your comfort zone and that needs celebrating. 

Tastemaker

I don’t really know what to start... This could have been a good production, its heart is definitely in the right place, but it did feel like community theatre... I guess the writing is the biggest issue: they try to tackle a million subjects, without really deepening in any of them. The same goes for the characters: too many, none too developed, at least on the (long) first half. The second half is much better, at least they choose some characters to develop and a plot for the show; still, the need for some ‘preaching’ in the end was quite tiresome (and I do agree with the idea of a society being open to foreigners being better, to the fact that NHS needs our help – and not privatisation), but hearing a whole speech about it after a long, heavy-handed play about it... it just felt redundant! (That being said, I think most people in the theatre weren’t as bothered by that as I was...) 

tastemaker

When I looked around the audience before the show started, I was convinced I was here to see a hospital version of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The kind of feel good play that reminds us that old people are still people and really entertaining people at that. The kind of play where old people go on a journey to “find themselves” and realise their worth. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This play meanders through number of issues – NHS funding, euthanasia, concerns over an increasingly ageing population, even Brexit, immigration and inheritance tax! It never fully lands on one issue to deal with it properly, it lacks too much focus. And every now and then the elderly people will get up and do a song and dance. It’s a little bizarre.

There are some interesting characters, but mostly we don’t get to see enough of them to get to know them in any detail. There are also some incredibly annoying and one-dimensional characters. The lack of focus and storyline doesn’t help here. I think it has potential, and I certainly wouldn’t say it was a bad play, but I needs refining.

tastemaker

I really enjoyed this show. It was a touching representation of the challenges faced by the NHS and local hospitals, patients who rely on the services as well as those who have dedicated their lives to caring for others. 


Multi-faceted, this performance focused on a ward for the elderly but told the story from a number of perspectives in addition to its patients; the young son who hated his hometown and is forced to return, the daughter and son-in-law who have investment to lose, the doctor who is well respected by his patients but not the establishment and the nurse who crosses a line for what she believes to be upholding standards.


The play was enjoyable and interesting, a few laughs lifted the darker moments but all drew to the audience being asked to pay attention to the choices we make, as a nation and as individuals.


The theatre itself was also really beautifully designed with incredible lighting in the foyer and elegant seating design in the theatre. I would definitely take my family to see this show - though not the kids, it's definitely aimed at an adult audience.

tastemaker

If you are not British or have not worked in the NHS you probably would not get it. The elderly ward setting was brilliantly done, the props, etc were so similar to what it was really like in real life. The cast was good, however, the storyline was not to my liking. I found it too heavy despite the sarcastic British jokes here and there which were relevant to the struggles of the NHS and the people who work in it. At times it felt a little uncomfortable as some scenes touched on sensitive issues, like a disillusioned nurse murdering a patient. If you are looking for a light hearted and happy play, look for something else. 

tastemaker

Have to say wasn’t really a fan of this one. I found it slow (very slow) which I realise is a comment on the whole ‘waiting to die’ thing but still struggled hard through the first half.

Having said that I LOVED the singing and dancing from the elderly Cast - hope I’m that agile when I’m fully grey!

My friend really liked it but if you’re more an action packed musical fan this may not be for you.

tastemaker

As a show it’s enjoyable enough, but there are much better offerings around at the moment. Bennett deals with a lot of big contemporary issues, through the overarching concern of the NHS, but a lot of them feel underdeveloped, the ‘right to work’ of one of the doctors being a case in point, so as an audience it can be quite difficult to pin down exactly what the main concern is. It is pleasing enough, however, and the level of performance is good, so you wouldn’t be disappointed if you booked for it.

tastemaker

The cast was brimming with talent as they brought Allelujah to the Bridge Theatre stage. The star for me was Gwen Taylor as Lucille. You can't watch this show without spotting 'that character who is like your grandma'. It is definitely more a play with songs and dance, rather than a musical as the songs do not move the story along - they are just there to add to the entertainment and provide an insight into the minds of the characters. 


It is very northern and very British, so I do feel like most of the references were lost on my American boyfriend. For that reason, it feels like the play is not for everyone, but would appeal to the likes of my northern grandmother who would be in on all of the jokes and references.


It is a fun night out and an interesting and midly amusing play.

tastemaker

This is one of the best plays I've seen this year and I go to theatre a lot!

I love Alan Bennett's writing anyway so I was optimistic before arrival and I knew the play was about the NHS.

The play tells the story of a Yorkshire hospital facing closure and the elderly patients are been filmed by local television to try and save it. The next nearest hospital is quite a distance.

A twist I didn't expect that I can't even write about as I want you to have the same surprise is pretty relevant and has been heard on the news in recent years.

The play is in good humour but such relevant subjects with a touch of singing it's guaranteed to make you leave the theatre with subliminal messages and a level of enjoyment.

tastemaker

This really is a heart warming play that makes you leave and really think about some of the topics which are touched on. It focuses on the possible closure of a geriatric ward of a hospital and follows a few characters individual stories along with showing the camaraderie within the group. Each character was played so well and the singing really made it great. It touched on some serious topics but was made light-hearted and still enjoyable.


The theatre itself was lovely - it is right on the southbank with great views to tower bridge. A great bar for a pre-theatre drink or snack and most importantly, comfy seats too.

tastemaker

A heart-warming comedy about the residents and staff of the geriatric ward of ailing Yorkshire hospital the Bethlehem. My wife works in a geriatric ward within the NHS as well and I was really keen to see how she would connect/react. It was really good to see how she could completely relate to the patients, staff, management and pressures of working in the environment. The dialogue is quick-witted with some really funny moments. It's a light comic relief for anyone who is interested in the subject. 

Tastemaker

I spent three weeks last year helping to look after a relative in the dementia ward of an NHS hospital after he broke his ankle and two ER docctors decided to fight over his care and slap a plaster cast on him even though he only needed a walking cast. The plater cast meant that he had to stay in hospital rather then going home immediately, and the catalogue of errors, miscommunication and other problems didn't end there (several NHS ER staff kept telling me that dementia patients 'didn't belong in an ER', all while we waited 12 hours there for a bed to become available in a' dementia-friendly ward'. Well if the ER staff hadn't botched his care he would have gone home in two hours). For three weeks I watched the way elderly patients, most of them with advanced dementia ,were treated (mostly pretty well, but occasionally not very well).


All of this explains why even though I'm too young to be a pensioner, I found Alan Bennett's 'Alleluja' to be full of humor, absurdity and downright truth in terms of its presentation of the treatment and mistreatment of frail, elderly patients in an old-fashioned 'cradle to tomb' NHS hospital in Bennett's beloved Yorkshire. The caring and controlling nurses, the young doctor punished for his idealism, the ruthless doctors who want to do as little as possible (one  spoke a line that I actually heard one of my relative's doctors say), the manager who is clueless, and the UK government management consultant who swans in and out making ruthless decisions without understanding anything are all the types of people I saw last year at my relative's hospital. 


Bennett can't help but be satiric and sharp but this play also offers his overwhelming frustration at loving the NHS in theory and hating it, now that he's old, in practice. The play could use some cuts and reshaping, although all the musical numbers when the various patients burst into song in charming dream-like sequences should be left alone.


The more experience that you have of an NHS hospital, the more you will admire how Bennett encapsulates in 2 1/2 hours the theatre of the absurd that is NHS elderly care in hospital.

tastemaker

I echo the sentiments of others. This play touches on some interesting themes but doesn't quite hit the mark. There were a lot of characters (some with no dialogue) and only small snippets of some of their stories were told. I think it would have been better if there were less characters and each story was more developed. I enjoyed the overarching storyline (can't say what it is) but thought it could have been explored further. This play raises a lot of questions about the state of the NHS, but doesn't delve far enough to make us really care. 

Tastemaker

As soon as I arrived to the theatre, I felt very demographically outnumbered. In a sea of 70+ spectators, we certainly felt like young little things who had a lot to learn. I guess the theme of the play did not really attract the youths that much.

Although everyone else, including my boyfriend, seemed to have a great time, I personally found the first half pretty boring, with close no action at all and an average character development. It was sweet but all a bit depressing, even if realistic.

The second half was much better: the pace was faster, with more happening as well as some quite dark moments with grieving relatives and murderous nurses.

There was a very interesting and unusual ending with one of the main protagonists addressing the audience directly in a plea to make us fight for openness to others, on a personal and state level, and saving the NHS and local medical services. The message really resonated with me and saved the play for me.

The acting or acting direction was poor and charicatural.

There were random musical numbers during the play which were nice comic relief and very cute.

tastemaker

From the moment we arrived and noticed that almost all of the audience were at least 50 I was pretty sure I was not the target audience for this show and it became clear that I was right fairly early on. 


Most of the humour wasn’t for me but the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it. The acting was very good although I felt like a few of the characters were tropes. The set was interesting and the way that they transitioned between scenes was really smooth. 


The main issue for me was that I think the subject matter can be quite sensitive so people are likely to take it in different ways. For me, humour was not the right way to address it but obviously this is a personal preference. 


tastemaker

Hallelujah for this play!


I enjoy productions that make me think about issues even days after the event. Allelujah is like that. It touches subjects such as life of old people ( loneliness, life stories, importance of connection ), problems in the NHS and residental facilities (the vulnerability of service users, problems caused by lack of funding, pressure on professionals), immigration (who the goverment sees as "useful" and who is destined to be rejected).

The production had weak points ( e.g. I thought some story lines were not closed), but overall I think the cast did a great job and it's worth to see Allelujah.


You've got until 29th Sep to go see 'Allelujah!', Allan Bennet's new play at Bridge Theatre and I would recommend you to give it a go and enjoy every bit of it.It's a long play but I never checked the time. It's clever delightful, funny andjoyfully sends a message that needs to be heard. It got also such an amazing cast, production and it is directed by Nicholas Hytner. Not to be missed! Pay attention to this news as well: Allellujah will be on the big screen! NTLive will be broadcasting to cinemas across UK and beyond on 1st November.


tastemaker

An eclectic cast (maybe a few too many characters, which makes it difficult to keep track of names) do try to light up the stage and Alan Bennett's wit does come through sporadically in this play directed by Nicholas Hytner in the Bridge Theatre. 

It had been my first visit to this theatre and it is well worth a visit for the bar alone; maybe not necessarily for this specific play it has to be said. 

Something that has been noticeable was the lack of female doctors in this geriatric ward: all doctors were male and all nurses female plus one young man on his work experience, who overplayed the fact that he couldn't care less about the hospital and its patients. This gender divide may have gone somewhat unnoticed sadly. 

Having said that, I would be lying if I said I didn't laugh every now and then during the play. 

tastemaker

Alan Bennett gets only the highest praise from many and yet Alleluyah doesn't quite make it. Set in a northern geriatric hospital, the first half moves slowly through some political points; are there enough beds? Should the hospital remain open? Is work experience actually worth it? Relationships between sixty-somethings and their ailing parent or in-law. However, we are jolted in our seats just before the end of the first act. After the interval we turn to immigrant doctors who have outstayed their visas. Deport or not? Privatisation. Nurses. It's all there and things wake up. The patients' singing and dancing is a joy throughout with one marvellous scene when the patients shed their years briefly and truly move to the music.

When compared to Bennett's previous work, this just falls a little short.

tastemaker

The sure fire combination of playwright Alan Bennett & director Nicholas Hytner fails to deliver.

This is a very poor production of a very weak play.Alan Bennett aims at every flaw he can find in the National Health. Unfortunately he totals misses all targets.The intelligence, wit & style we have come to expect from Bennett are all missing. The humour consists of rather feeble jokes (e.g. the doctor who is unable to find a hospital bed for his patient says he has had to put him in the morgue .....  he was thinking outside the box ) The "action" takes place in the geriatric Ward in a small northern hospital. Hytner has collected a dozen or so elderly actors as patients. In between scenes the cast sing us ancient sentimental pieces.The production doesn't belong in the West end, it would fit more at the end of the pier. 
tastemaker

Set in the aging Bethlehem hospital, filled with its aging geriatric ward ensemble, Allelujah is a satire of all that is wrong with the UK today.  It was an enjoyable show, that manages to be joyful at moments despite how depressing its message is. It is a little light on plot and it feels like every issue facing us today is shoe horned into the two and half hours, from the highly qualified, caring immigrant doctor forced to leave the uk, to the closure of local hospitals, and a father and son unable to connect. There are some great performances, most notably Deborah Gilchrist as Sister Gilchrist, Sasha Dhawan as Dr Valentine and Jeff Rawle as Joe.  And easy watch with some touching moments.

It has to be said that the Bridge Theatre is quite brilliant, with every seat having a great view, a beautiful lobby and food and drink by St Johns.  Make sure you order Madeleine's for the break or you’ll regret it when you come out and smell them

Tastemaker

What a joyous piece of British brilliance this is. Despite my 30 years, making me around half the age of the rest of the audience, I still loved every minute and was thankful for its breaking of the age divide that can exist in London. With a large, stellar cast, the stage comes alive as the patients and staff of the at-risk cradle to grave Bethlehem hospital. With some classic British slapstick comedy, singing, a plot twist and some politics thrown in, this culminated in a cracking play. What I especially loved is Bennett's ability to connect people of all ages through the story. I was really pleased to see a great selection of brilliant older actors showing off their talents as the heart of the storyline, something the performing arts need to improve on. One thing I would say is that references are very British, so might not resonate with everyone; an American friends really wasn't a fan, so something to bear in mind! 

tastemaker

I have to say I am usually a big fan of The Bridge Theatre, so my expectations were set high! However unfortunately for me Allelujah just didn't quite hit the mark. This British satire pokes fun at a culture whilst also trying to intertwine some political sentiment. Whilst i fully understood the intention, the execution wasn't clear. I felt maybe I wasn't the right audience for the show. At 26 I was easily 30 years younger than the average audience member, who were all laughing along. The occasional singing that came from the hospital choir was clearly meant to lighten the mood however it often left me feeling confused as to why we had broken into song. As a whole it seemed the majority of the audience were laughing along with the fella next to me commenting ' true brilliance' at the end. However for me it just didn't hit the mark. 

Tastemaker

At 41 I was probably the youngest person in the audience for this play, Alan Bennett's latest offering of comedy but with a point to prove, as we see the goings-on inside Bethlehem Hospital as the residents get a good deal of care and don't wish to actually get better for fear of being sent to an awful nursing home. With songs to break up the comedy and some moving moments added into the mix, along with some laugh out loud punchlines, I really enjoyed this play. Typically British and set up North, there were also some starkly dark moments that made the audience gasp, with some twists and turns to keep us all guessing. A thoroughly enjoyable and tightly written play, I never once looked at my watch. It didn't outstay its welcome. 

tastemaker

Set in the Bethlehem hospital, Bennett’s latest play is a thought provoking 2.5 hours which questions the NHS, becoming of British, gentrification of the North, your own health and your relationship with your elderly relatives. Bennett is still on point and does what he does best. Using British mannerisms he has the ability to get points across is a satirical, witty and awkward way.

The cast are really fabulous and a special shout out to the ‘older cast’ who do well do act up like how you would imagine someone from Doncaster would.


A thought provoking but dark and witty piece. Aptly timed with the NHS turning 70 this year.


Good to see the Bridge theatre has chosen yet another great play to house. On till the 29th September. 

Tastemaker

Allelujah! is Alan Bennett at his best. Lulled by the first half of the first act into thinking we are watching a cosy whimsical musical set in a geriatric ward; a gradual change in tone and twist in the storyline, takes us into a much darker, more political and barbed play than it at first appears. 

It still has the witty ripostes, the drollery that we have come to expect, but there is also an anger about how we treat and respect those who are at the periphery of our society. I love Alan Bennett for his ability to see both sides of a story - this play has characters form all points of the spectrum and all of them are equally unapologetic for their stance.

Beautifully directed, I love the set, even the ward names are funny. There are great performances throughout. 

Alan Bennett finds his teeth and they are nice and sharp!



While I'm a big fan of Alan Bennett, there's a high probability that this will be his final play but sadly it's not one of his finest. If you're expecting 'The History Boys', you may want to move your finger away from the "Confirm Booking" button right now.


A mish-mash of revue, a smattering of plot, fantasy dance sequences, some utterly dreadful jokes, a lazy predictability (oooh let's have a disinterested young work experience character, who admittedly hits his comedy high point when playing the bass drum) oh and Bennett hits us over the head with a political postscript from one of the characters near the end. 


Tonally, it runs the gamut - from the pure-panto of the hospital's chief exec character to some Agatha Christie style action at one point, but what seems strangely lacking is poignancy. 'Allelujah!' is many miles away from what he did with Lady in the Van.


Act 1 really drags in places. Act 2 is pacier. The set does the job but the vast empty space above the sliding flats seems at odds with what is supposed to be a "cosy" hospital and makes the final reveal less impressive.


Entertaining but unsatisfying.

tastemaker

Allelujah! is a sweet and heart-warming at the Bridge theatre written by the wonderful Alan Bennett. Great expectations meant the first half was quite underwhelming - the humour was a little stale and obvious and the play itself feels quite slow and lacks plot until the final scene. The second half however contains a lot more action and a few more laughs. Overall, it was an enjoyable play, but not one you'd see again in a hurry.

tastemaker

Audiences know what to expect when they book to see an Alan Bennett play.  Always mildly amusing, even when the daggers are out.  There's few laugh-out-loud moments but plenty of chuckling and nodding of heads at the words that Bennett's performers utter in his latest play. Set in the Geriatric Ward of a hospital under threat, the banter between the elderly patients is realistic and funny.  Concerned families worry about paying extra tax if mother doesn't live the required 7 years since her generous bequest.  A disturbed ward sister has such a traumatic past, she takes patients' lives into her own hands.  Then there's the "civil servant" from London who hospital staff think is on a mission to try and close the place - and so it goes on.  Add to the mix jolly singing and dancing by the elderly folk and it's an enjoyable 2.5 hours.