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Office Suite review at Minerva Chichester

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Office Suite brings two one-act television plays written for and performed by Patricia Routledge to the stage. The first, a Visit From Miss Prothero, is brilliant, the second, Green Forms, could benefit from a 15-minute cut.

A Visit From Miss Prothero is beautifully played by Routledge and Edward Petherbridge. Try to analyse it and you realise that very little happens for the entire 45 minutes, which opens with Petheridge as the recently retired Mr Dodsworth, dozing in his chair, awakened by the arrival of his former work colleague Miss Prothero, come to keep him up to date with what has been happening in their office.

Content with his newly acquired interest in cookery and pottery, Dodsworth reminisces about how he had transformed his department at work by reducing delivery times. It is then that Miss Prothero reveals the devastating news that everything has been computerised, negating at a stroke, his lifetime of planning for office efficiency. Routledge doesn’t just act a part, she becomes that person and her amazing technique is never visible.

The second of Bennett’s plays about office life, finds her behind a desk gossiping with Janet Dale as Doris, worried by an influx of green forms which could herald a change in working practices and possible redundancy. Petheridge makes a brief, but telling appearance, delivering yet more forms with loads of advice about joining the union, bringing him a round of applause.

Bennett’s double bill is an excellent opener to the Chichester Festival Theatre’s 2007 season.

Production Information

Minerva, Chichester, April 12-May 12

Alan Bennett
Edward Kemp
Chichester Festival Theatre
Patricia Routledge, Edward Petherbridge, Janet Dale, David Bannerman,
Carole Street.
Running time
2hrs 15mins
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