“I think people will be surprised and impressed by Jennifer Saunders’s subtle and winning performance”: Richard Eyre on Allelujah
Adapting the 2018 play of the same name by Alan Bennett, Allelujah, written by Heidi Thomas and directed by Richard Eyre, is a provocative, humorous and emotive look at the geriatric ward in a small hospital in Yorkshire that faces closure. The establishment encounters the nationwide effects of limited resources in the NHS and pulls together donations from the local community in a bid to battle the threat. Viewers are taken through the challenges faced daily by the staff and patients, ending with the frightening moment Covid-19 hit.
Prior to the pandemic, a film crew are invited into the hospital to shoot the preparations for a concert to be held in honour of Sister Gilpin (Jennifer Saunders), a well-respected professional carer. Aside from just filming the musical performances, the team also interview the patients, eliciting heartwarming anecdotes and a sense of genuine warmth from the staff that filters through the hardships and indignity their elderly residents endure.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking with the director about what his feature is all about and how he adapted the original play. We also discussed the experience of working with a brilliant ensemble cast (including Dame Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi and Saunders), and touched on the themes, as well as the importance of giving a heart to the story. He also told us about where Allelujah was filmed and some of the more memorable moments of making it.
Allelujah is released nationwide on March 17th 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for Allelujah here: