Taconic Stage Company

Bed Among the Lentils & Talking, Talking Heads

One Woman, Two Plays, Terrific Theater
Theater: Marsden Epworth
September, 03, 2009


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Theater can be funny, smart, entertaining. And sometimes, it can be so engaging you’re sorry to leave the hall.

   That’s  Taconic Stage Company’s two-week double feature: “Bed among the Lentils,” and “Talking, Talking Heads,” performed in the Church of St. John in the Wilderness, a small Gothic Revival structure designed by Richard Upjohn, not in a wilderness, exactly, but certainly wooded terrain in Copake Falls, NY.

   Leda Hodgson, perched at one point on the communion rail, plays Susan, the vicar’s wife in “Bed Among the Lentils,” who cannot bear her life, the parishioners, the church, or Geoffrey, the vicar himself.

   “One of the mysteries of my life,” Susan tells us, “is why the vicar’s wife is expected to go to church at all. A barrister’s wife doesn’t have to go to court, an actor’s wife isn’t at every performance, so why have I always got to be on parade?”

   Her remedy, we discover, is Tio Pepe at first, communion wine next and, finally, the only measure that takes, Mr. Ramesh, the Hindu grocer with the bells, the exquisite manners, the beautiful legs.

   Of course we do not see Mr. Ramesh, or Geoffrey, or the irritating men and women who engage in ferocious parish politics in this one-person show, but Hodgson, a totally engaging actor, surrounds herself with all these people.

   In “Talking, Talking Heads,” Hodgson, looking spiffier, now, is Sophie, a mostly-out-of-work actor auditioning for a lunchtime run of “Bed Among the Lentils.”

   She has three days’ notice for the part with a lot of lines, no fellow actors and, very likely, no money.

   “I’m bound not to get it,” she reassures herself.

   But she does get it, and here playwright Nick Kidd ribs “Lentils” playwright Alan Bennett, and describes the acting life in painful and witty detail.

   As for the setting, this church, most churches, really, are perfect places for a play. And Hodgson, a clear and confident and very British actor is perfect for these parts.

   Taconic Stage Company’s production of “Bed Among the Lentils” and “Talking, Talking Heads” runs at The Church of St. John in the Wilderness, 261 Route 322, Copake Falls, NY, just off Route 22, through Sept. 6. For reservations and information, call 518-325-1234.