Three women. Three monologues nearly 30 years old. And one stage…

However you do the maths, the current run of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads at Bournemouth Little Theatre certainly packs a punch.

Doing justice to Bennett, a British master of modern drama, is no mean feat.

But BLT Director Rachael de Courcy Beamish makes it look easy.

The production was apparently chosen at short notice, but you couldn’t tell from the sterling performances put in by the three grande dame’s gracing the stage last night.

Jan Smiles was terrific as Susan, the dowdy Vicar’s wife who tells all on parish politics, becomes an alcoholic and finds liberation in her affair with an Asian grocer.

Hats off to her for holding the audience’s attention for some 40 minutes on a minimal set.

Just when one thought this turn couldn’t be topped, up stepped June Garland as Irene Ruddock in the ‘Lady of Letters’.

Garland made a magnificent Irene, a middle-aged busybody in love with her fountain pen and rattling off letters putting society to rights - even the Queen.

She had truly mastered this complex dialogue, and brought Bennett’s script to life with a passionate performance. At times she was a real hoot, at others quite tragic.

Last but not least was Virginia Harrington in ‘A Cream Cracker Under the Settee’, a tale of a 75-year-old widow struggling to cling onto her independence.

Depicting old age is difficult, but Harrington gave a great portrayal of elderly Doris, reduced to shuffling around the floor of her living room following a fall.

Bennett leaves us guessing as to what happens next for his characters. With unique, cutting humour he holds a magnifying glass to the characters of Great Britain.

The BLT cast and crew are doing him proud with a production. It was a shame he wasn’t in the stalls - he missed something really quite special here.