The National Theatre of Brent is a theatre company of two; it is a fictional ‘troupe’ consisting of two, the founder, Artistic Director and Chief Executive Desmond Olivier Dingle, and various assistants. Dingle is played by Patrick Barlow, and his assistant has been played by different actors over the last thirty years, including the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning actor, Jim Broadbent. The National Theatre of Brent appeared on the radio and on TV and it was on TV that we first saw and enjoyed their productions.
Their productions, written by Barlow with additional material from other collaborators, is a series of dramas about episodes in history, and profiles of ‘iconic icons’ and important episodes in history, including
- The Charge of the Light Brigade
- The Black Hole of Calcutta
- Wagner’s Ring Cycle
- The Messiah
- Mighty Moments from World History
- Greatest Story Ever Told
- The Complete Life and Works of Shakespeare
- Oh Dear Purcell!
- Giant Ladies That Changed The World
They were all spoof histories, productions and programmes, the costumes were the occasional wig, shawl or cloak, the performances were purposely and hilariously like the worst amateur dramatic productions, and their were slap-stick elements with the straightest of straight faces. It was very, very clever, and very, very funny.
However, within some of the ‘dramas’, were very moving moments – we particularly loved ‘Revolution!!!’ which told the story of the events in France when the Republic was created and Louis and Marie-Antoinette met their fates. Jim Broadbent played the part of the Queen, and despite the fact he was a big man in a silly wig and mob-cap and with a flimsy shawl round his suited shoulders, he portrayed her last moments in a way which actually brought tears to my eyes… silly but true.
One of the more hilarious moments in Revolution!!! was at Versailles in the ‘pointy tree garden’. ever since then we have always called that type of topiary, pointy trees. At the national trust property of Lytes Cary there is a splendid pointy tree garden!