The director chatted to Emma Clarendon about his production of Tony’s Last Tape, playing at the Omnibus Theatre from the 2nd April.

Philip Bretherton as Tony Benn (c) Robert Day.

Could you explain a little bit more about what Tony’s Last Tape is about? The structure of the play is based on Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape and features the 87 year Tony Benn in his study in the middle the night recording his final diary entry on tape. He reflects on his past, muses on politics and talks about his family. Like Benn, it is passionate, funny and touchingly sentimental.

What struck you the most about Andy Barrett’s play? It’s inventiveness, wit and the accuracy his rendition of the spirit of the man. This has been confirmed by all four of Tony Benn’s children, who have seen and enjoyed the play. In fact some of them are coming for a second time when it’s on at the Omnibus Theatre.

How did you want to approach bringing this story to the stage? For me it was essential that it was good theatre and enjoyable to those that might not have an interest in politics. At the same time those that want to see something of the radical firebrand politician won’t go away disappointed, not least because of Philip Bretherton’s brilliant portrayal.

Has there been anything in particular that you have enjoyed the most about directing this play? Learning more about the warmth and generosity of Benn, whilst gaining a greater understanding of what drove him. 

How have rehearsals been going? Very well and it has been fascinating working on Tony’s Last Tape whilst there is so much happening in Parliament. Every moments in the script jump out as being so relevant and timely.

If people are coming along what can they expect? A terrific script, an excellent performance and a funny, moving, invigorating evening.

By Emma Clarendon

Tony’s Last Tape will play at the Omnibus Theatre from the 2nd to the 20th April.