ALAN Bennett’s intriguing play, The Habit of Art has been revived for a tour, and the good news is, it’s heading to Malvern Theatres.

Directed by Philip Franks and starring the Olivier-award winning Matthew Kelly as W. H. Auden/Fitz and David Yelland as Benjamin Britten/Henry, the play explores friendship, rivalry and heartache, the joy, pain and the emotional cost of creativity.

A spokesman said: “It is centred on a fictional meeting between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten. Bennett wrote it as a play-within-a-play – actors Fitz, Henry, Tim and Donald are rehearsing a play called Caliban’s Day under the direction of stage manager, Kay, and in the presence of the playwright, Neil.

“In Caliban’s Day, a fictitious meeting occurs in 1973 in Auden’s rooms at Oxford not long before he dies. Britten has been auditioning boys nearby for his opera Death in Venice, and arrives unexpectedly – their first meeting in 25 years after falling out over the failure of their opera Paul Bunyan.”

The Habit of Art premiered at the National Theatre in November 2009, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour. The National then toured the production in Autumn 2010 with a new cast led by Desmond Barrit, Malcolm Sinclair and Selina Caddell.

Matthew Kelly’s West End credits include Waiting For Godot with Ian McKellan and Roger Rees, Tim Firth’s play Sign of the Times, and the musical Lend Me A Tenor! Other recent theatre includes Pride & Prejudice (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre & UK Tour), The Jew Of Malta, Volpone and Love’s Sacrifice for the RSC.

The Habit of Art will be at Malvern Theatres from November 27 to December 1.

Tickets are on sale at the box office on 01684 892277 and online at