Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Lady in the Van Review - 3 Stars

Maggie Smith delivers yet another winning portrait of a crusty old lady as “The Lady in the Van.” That alone, is enough reason to enjoy this story. I’m glad to report Maggie’s grand presence combines with several other winning elements to make a delightful experience. Writer Alan Bennett first produced “The Lady in the Van” as a play, based on a real character in his neighborhood... a mysterious old lady, who insisted on living in a van. In real life, she parked her van in Bennett’s driveway and stayed fifteen years. Smith puts her winning stamp on Mary Shepherd, the real character who lived in Bennett’s driveway. The story develops into a English twist on “The Odd Couple.” We get a glimpse of Bennett’s world as a writer, and we gradually learn odd and mysterious facts about Shepherd as played by Maggie Smith. I especially liked a couple of moments toward the end, when the real Bennett appears and life and art seem to merge. Does it deliver what it promises? Dry British wit. Is it entertaining? Funny and charming. Is it worth the price of admission? As a “Downton Abbey” fan, all I can say is one can never have too much of Maggie Smith.