Hymn and Cocktail Sticks: Sunday double bills

a memoir of music in childhood
words by Alan Bennett
music by George Fenton

Cocktail Sticks
by Alan Bennett

Hymn and Cocktail Sticks: Sunday double bills

a memoir of music in childhood
words by Alan Bennett
music by George Fenton

Alan Bennett writes: ‘In 2001 the Medici Quartet commissioned the composer George Fenton to write a piece commemorating their thirtieth anniversary. George Fenton appeared in my play Forty Years On and has written music for many of my plays since, and he asked me to collaborate on the commission. Hymn was the result. First performed at the Harrogate Festival in August 2001, it’s a series of memoirs with music. Besides purely instrumental passages for the quartet, many of the speeches are under-scored, incorporating some of the hymns and music I remember from my childhood and youth.’

It’s a dwindling band; old-fashioned and of a certain age, you can pick us out at funerals and memorial services because we can sing the hymns without the book.

Music performed by members of Southbank Sinfonia

Hymn is coupled with Cocktail Sticks, an oratorio without music that revisits some of the themes and conversations of Alan Bennett’s memoir A Life Like Other People’s.
A son talks to his dead father as his mother yearns for a different life. It’s funny, tender and sad.

The pinnacle of my social life is a scrutty bit of lettuce and tomato and some tinned salmon. Mind you, I read in Ideal Home that if you mix tinned salmon with this soft cheese you can make it into one of those moussy things. Shove a bit of lemon on it and it looks really classy.

Alex Jennings plays Alan Bennett in both pieces.

Music performed by members of Southbank Sinfonia
Sound Designer: Mike Walker

Cocktail Sticks
Cast includes Derek Hutchinson, Gabrielle Lloyd, Maggie McCarthy and Jeff Rawle
Music performed by Rachel Elliott (clarinet) and Chris Fish (cello)

Director: Nicholas Hytner
Designer: Bob Crowley
Lighting Designer: Tom Snell

Untold Stories
The double-bill of Hymn and Cocktail Sticks transfered to the Duchess Theatre in London’s West End from 22 March 2013 for a twelve week run. 

The original Sunday performances of Hymn and Cocktail Sticks ran at the National Theatre from 16 December 2012 until 17 March 2013

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