LONDON : Theater Review : "It was my house!" It is the cry of a dispossession by a women wrested from her own home and  into the hospital, and her incomprehension is matched by her rancor.

The triumphs are more than temporary. But song repeatedly conquers senility - and rage, fear  and  helplessness - in ''Allelujah!, the sharp but slow new comedy of dismay by Britain's most adored  octogenarian man on letters, Alan Bennett.

Such melodic victories, performed by the residents of a hospital geriatric ward, often erupt in this eagerly anticipated production, playing Sept 29 at the Bridge Theater in London.

They are a testament to Mr. Bennett's abiding awe for the mystical comforts of music even in the shadow of death.

The theory that the ability to sing - even dance - can survive the loss of the rational mind started early and hopefully in this fulminating play, directed by Mr. Bennett's frequent collaborator Nicholas Hytner.

It's a notion confirmed by the presence the first person we see, a decrepit and isolated woman, listing to one side in a spotlighted wheelchair.

Her name is Mrs. Maudsley [Jacqueline Clarke]. And long before we learn that she was once known by the irresistibly Bennettian moniker of the Pudsey Nightingale, she trills ''Yours,'' an undying declaration of love that was a hit for Vera Lynn during World War II.

The lyrics Mrs. Maudsley croons, in a wavery soprano, may be predictable, but they have  variety. Her conversation, in contrast, is limited to one, iterated sentence, delivered at the top of her lungs :

''It was my house!'' it is the cry of dispossession by a woman wrested from her own home and into the  hospital, and her incomprehension is matched only by her rancor.

The World Students Society thanks author and researcher Ben Brantley.


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