Audition: Single Spies

Two, one-act plays by Alan Bennett

‘An Englishman Abroad’

‘A Question of Attribution’


Audition Dates:

Monday 30th July at 7.30pm

Monday 6th August at 7.30pm



Wed 15th August 7.30pm



Tuesday 16th October – Saturday 20th October at 7.45pm


Audition Details:

Audition sides will consist of short scenes and speeches from the plays.  These will be provided on the day.   There are loan copies of the plays available for collection at the box office by arrangement with the director Kim Dyas, by email or phone: 077 66 00 44 55

Please arrive for the audition at least fifteen minutes before it starts and be prepared to be at the theatre for a while.  We will want to take a head shot of you on arrival. 

If you are planning to attend, it would help if you could let the director know on which audition date you plan to attend.  Kim Dyas at:

Please use the subject line ‘Spies Audition’ and include a phone number.


Rehearsal Period:

Rehearsals will begin in late August or early September and generally consist of two or three evenings a week and during the day/evening on Sundays. Not everyone will have to attend every rehearsal until closer to the production dates and since we are doing two separate plays, we may be able to be flexible with any of your other commitments - but you must make these clear on the audition form.

Please note this is an amateur production. You do not need to be a member of Putney Theatre Company to audition, but actors and crew will need to become members to take part in the show (£20 a year), and actors pay a £20 show fee.



Alan Bennett’s title for his two, one-act plays is taken from Claudius in Hamlet, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions”.

‘An Englishman Abroad’ covers a factual meeting of the Australian actress Coral Browne and the ‘Cambridge spy’ Guy Burgess in Moscow in 1958.  Miss Browne is touring in Hamlet, visits Burgess in his state-provided flat and observes the shabby circumstances of his exile.  Their exchanges are sharp, witty and poignant.

‘A Question of Attribution’, is Bennett’s fantasy on a meeting that never happened.  The austere but acerbically witty grandee, Sir Anthony Blunt  (‘The Fourth Man’) is Keeper of The Queen’s Pictures in the late 60’s and we have him trading thoughts on the very essence of fakery and artistic deception with the Queen (HMQ), who happens on him in a corridor in Buckingham Palace whilst as he hangs a ‘fake’ Titian portrait.

Alan Bennett’s mastery of dry, witty dialogue has never been bettered.


An Englishman Abroad


Australian-American actress, striking, glamorous and elegant.  RP, slipping into soft Australian. PA late 40s.

Guy Burgess

Eton, Trinity Cambridge.  Very upper class, but now much reduced and shabby. PA around 50


Male, homosexual lover provided by the KGB for Burgess.  Small part but sexy!  PA 20s.


Jermyn Street tailor.  Upper class servant to the upper classes.

Shop Assistant

Similar to the tailor, but in this case selling pyjamas!


A Question of Attribution

Sir Anthony Blunt KCVO

Director of The Courtauld Institute and Keeper of The Queen’s                                                  Pictures.  Marlborough, Trinity Cambridge.  Tall, elegant, cold and remote, immeasurably cultivated and an immense snob.  PA early 60s.


Art world technician described by Bennett as ‘a humbler figure in a dustcoat’. 

PA 40-65


Middle class MI5 inquisitor who has regular meetings with Blunt to pump him for information.  PA 35-60


Young pupil to Blunt who accompanies him to the Palace.  PA early 20s.


Palace footman but who disarmingly knows much about art history.  PA 20s or early 30s.


No description needed but the part is not a caricature.   At the time of the play, The Queen will have been in her early to mid 40s