THE INFORMATION on:`Larkin with Women'

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What Is It?

Set in Hull, where Philip Larkin was the university librarian between 1956 and his death from cancer in 1985, Ben Brown's new play, Larkin with Women, views life from the perspective of the poet's difficulty with girls, and their difficulties with him.

Who's In It?

Oliver Ford Davies as Larkin pitches his excellent performance somewhere between the Tory pessimism of Eeyore and of Dr Johnson. As for the women, Carolyn Backhouse is splendid as Monica - the sexily original siren-cum-bluestocking who was the most important female in Larkin's life, while Susie Blake plays Betty, his secretary, who worked for him for 20 years.

What They Say About It

"... shrewd and highly entertaining... I could have done with more about his mother (the crucial female influence, after all), I emerged admiring the skill with which Brown has shaped the material and the unpriggish angle which he has taken on it," Paul Taylor, The Independent.

"Funny, generous and touching, a portrait that honours both the man and his work... Ben Brown is, however, a dramatist of great wit and warmth, whose future looks exceptionally bright," Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph.

"Ben Brown has created a man long on shortcomings but so drily, ruefully witty that the women's fondness for him makes sense," Jeremy Kingston, The Times.

Where You Can See It

Larkin with Women is at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (01723 370541) to 27 Nov