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BWW Review: TALKING HEADS: HAND OF GOD, BBC iPlayer

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BWW Review: TALKING HEADS: HAND OF GOD, BBC iPlayer

BWW Review: TALKING HEADS: HAND OF GOD, BBC iPlayerA cautionary tale of what goes around, comes around, The Hand of God continues the series of Alan Bennett's wonderful Talking Heads with a story of comeuppance, karma and justice.

Celia is an antiques dealer; snobby about her customers, disdainful about their lack of expertise and happy to exploit her own knowledge about the tricks of the trade. When an acquaintance, the elderly Miss Ventris, becomes terminally ill, Celia is drawn to her and her house full of antiques. After believing she might swoop in to take the treasure, Celia is annoyed when a distant Canadian relative is left the contents of the house when Miss Ventris dies. However, the relative gives Celia a small box of items, one of which is a strange drawing of a finger. Celia is dismissive of the picture, but is rather taken with the intricate frame.

Celia is delighted with herself when she sells the picture and frame for a seemingly inflated price of £100. However, she is taken completely aback when the limitations of her expertise are revealed in the most surprising way.

Kirsten Scott Thomas is a big name to have landed for the role of Celia; originally played by a masterful Eileen Atkins. Scott Thomas is professional, refined and very convincing; the way her eyes flicker to and from the camera lens is particularly effective and natural.

The issue is that Scott Thomas does not make Celia awful enough for us to truly revel in her misjudgment. She isn't sufficiently sneering or superior to luxuriate in her eventual misfortune. She is indeed arrogant, condescending and snooty, but despite her covetous nature, you actually feel fairly sorry for her when she reveals she was physically sick when she found out the consequences of her actions.

Much of the appeal of Alan Bennett's wonderful series is the lugubrious and slightly meandering nature of the narratives. Hand of God follows the same pattern, but fails to spark enough interest along the way. The story lacks some focus; the crux of the story is not mentioned until twenty minutes out of thirty have passed.

The piece looks immersive and interesting, combined with Jonathan Kent's thoughtful and calm direction. Kirsten Dudley and India Smith's design is excellent; cluttered and busy with random furniture, fabrics and ornaments.

Hand of God fails to spark in the same way as some of the other pieces in this series. There is an overriding sense that by the end of the piece, the audience should be distinctly satisfied that justice has been done. However, overall the reaction created is not strong enough to quietly enjoy Celia's misfortune, which is surely what Bennett wanted us to get out of it.

Alan Bennett's Talking Heads is now on the BBC iPlayer

Photo Credit: BBC/London Theatre Company


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From This Author Aliya Al-Hassan