“A Lady of Letters” and “Bed Among the Lentils” are monologues about two lonely characters in the late 20th Century. Miss Ruddock is an ordinary middle-aged woman who has an obsession to write letters of complaint so it landed her in trouble. Susan is the ” heroine ” in ” Bed Among the Lentils”, she is a vicar”s wife and an alcoholic.
Susan lives in a loveless marriage and strongly disagrees with the “role” of the vicar”s wife; she lacks love and attention from her husband. Susan in dissatisfied with sex in her marriage “rare and desiccated conjunctions that take place between Geoffrey and me” and hates Geoffrey”s “fun club” and his ambition and career. On the other hand Geoffrey covers for her but everyone is aware that she is an addict. Susan is not religious and doubts that even her husband is a real believer. Everyone in the parish ignores her, even the bishop refers to her as “Mrs Vicar”. Being an outcast she drifted to alcoholism and later to adultery. She even failed her own vision of her old age but excused herself with lacking the temperament.Order now
It is unclear why Susan started an affair, was it to get back at Geoffrey or lack of sex or even just out of drunkenness? She did find sexual satisfaction and even showed some curiosity in Mr Ramesh”s religion which might mean that she disagree with the basic of Christianity. Susan does make odd comments about Jesus ” You never see picture of Jesus smiling, do you?” It seems that she is searching for an excuse to drink and Mrs Shrubsole is as good as any. Obviously that she is trapped and unable to find way out, drinking and the affair are only extra weight on her. The awakening point is when Mr Ramesh suggested that it would be nice to try sex while she is sober. Susan joins AA. Soon there is a transformation in her outer appearance but inside she become even more isolated. Mr Ramesh is gone and Geoffrey is using Susan and her fight with the addiction as his achievement hoping to speed up his career. Susan ended up worse than at the beginning.
Miss Ruddock is a ” guardian ” of local community, writing complaints to everyone about everything. She is very traditional and prejudice evens a racist. Irene does not mean to be destructive but being a busybody she did make some wrong accusations and ended up in prison. She did care for her mother until her death and stayed single since. Irene is a virgin and does not show any interest in men or sex. She is snobbish “I never said she could call me Irene.” She has a little contact with people, even does not know how to swear.
Her compulsive writing is her way to be part of society, her only contact with outside world. She can not go along the progress, noticing that policemen wears glasses or that neighbours do not have curtains makes her an outsider. Unfortunate interference about the child across the road and reporting about a policemen-spending time at No.56 landed her in prison. Ironically she finds a freedom in the prison “This is the first taste of freedom I”ve had in years.” Irene needs to be needed and helping Bridget to deal with killing she has on conscience gives Irene happiness. In some ways she is a funny and interesting character, the “happiest” of the all “Talking Heads”.
Irene changes her situation while Susan stayed trapped. Susan is rebellious and had conflict with herself too; Irene just can not help but tells what she thinks about everything that goes in her street but tempt to jump to conclusion. We feel sorry for Susan because as she said she ended up with two churches, sadly she was unable to break free. Irene has “happy” ending even she is in prison but she found herself there.
Monologues tells us more about the characters then they want to tell but it is also a one-sided story, other characters might be completely different. Obviously Bennett has some disagreement with church, police and social services, his monologues clearly shows a critique about them. He uses simple but eye-catching words to give very strong statements, he knows how to describe thoughts of lonely and even mentally disturbed character. Bennett is brilliant and has very strong narrating skills, the tragic-comic “Talking Heads” are full of irony but it shows us how much isolation there was in late 80″s. Sadly there is even more nowadays.