As we were waiting for the show to begin, we noticed that Patricia Routledge and Piers Lane were being given receptions by the Tasmanian and Queensland governors. "Hyacinth" someone said "would have felt that at long last she had made it". Which was almost the last time that we were reminded of Mrs B. during the whole delightful evening. Almost but not entirely. From time to time when a point was being made, the body language seemed eerily familiar.
But for most of the evening Patricia Routledge's clarity and precision of speech carried us into an earlier era, where Dame Myra Hess brought the magic and the therapy of music to a war-stricken city.
The National Gallery's paintings had disappeared into underground caverns in Wales. "Not one painting" insisted Churchill "shall leave the British Isles". Myra Hess suggested that lunchtime concerts should be held. Not sure how many people would turn up, they were staggered when over a thousand people appeared. Nearly seventeen hundred concerts later, with the war over, the concerts came to a triumphant end.
Patricia Routledge, who had in her school days fallen under the spell of a live concert by Myra Hess, brought her to life in her readings and monologues.
And the music – Piers Lane made us understand how, while Schubert, and Brahms, and Chopin were being played, all else was forgotten, even when a flying bomb was overhead. "What better way to go" a musician said "than playing Beethoven".
And to finish -- the achingly beautiful " Jesu, Joy of man's desiring" which Dame Myra had made her own.
This was an understated but very memorable evening.
Admission One Shilling was in Brisbane on May 9th and 10th, Sydney on May 13th-16th, and will be in Canberra from May 20th to May 21st, Adelaide from May 23rd-24th, and Perth from May 20th to May 31st.