Single Spies

I really like Kingston’s Rose Theatre – not least because of their £5 tickets (even allowing for the fact that you have to sit on the floor, it’s a bargain) – and I thoroughly enjoyed their recent production of Alan Bennett’s Single Spies.

A double bill about double agents during the Cold War, the evening consisted of two one-act plays. An Englishman Abroad was about the meeting between actress Coral Browne and spy Guy Burgess in Moscow in 1958, after his defection. A Question of Attribution looked at art historian Anthony Blunt, director of the Courtauld Institute and Keeper of HMQ’s pictures at Buckingham Palace.

Thoughtful and thought-provoking, the plays fed into one another and explored the lives of the spies, their personalities, and the parallels between acting as a spy and acting on stage. Alexander Hanson brought a suave ambiguity to the role of Burgess, and Michael Pennington was a thoughtful, vulnerable Blunt. An intelligent and sharp evening at the theatre.

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