IN just four years, London Repertory Players’ visits to Boscombe’s Shelley Theatre have become something to look forward to each summer – like sunny weather, but more reliable.

This year, their season has been extended to include five plays instead of three. Alongside the thrillers that have proved great audience-pleasers, there is a Noel Coward comedy (Private Lives), a recent play (4000 Days) and, to start with, an evening of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.

The company has selected three of the 12 monologues that Bennett wrote for TV.

Lady of Letters has Barbara Dryhurst as an older woman whose habit of getting out her Platignum pen and Basildon Bond whenever she sees anything amiss in the world turns out to be more than a harmless eccentricity.

A Chip in the Sugar has Mark Spalding as the middle aged man whose co-dependent relationship with his elderly mother is threatened by a man in her life.

And in Bed Among the Lentils, Victoria Porter is the vicar’s wife whose unhappy existence sends her reaching too often for the sherry.

Bennett’s scripts are all masterpieces, eliciting laughs at the characters’ perfectly delineated foibles one minute, then revealing something disturbing or tragic the next. With their very precise use of language and deft changes of tone, the pieces demand first class acting, and they get it from these players. It would be hard to say which of the exceptional performances was the best.

This was a captivating evening which should leave audiences eager to book for the next play in the season.

  • Talking Heads runs until Tuesday, August 6.