A very British coup

Lloyd George Knew My Father. Hilton Playhouse. September 1-11.

MOIRA Lister can sing. She only does one number in this dinner-theatre offering, but it's enough. Rarely have five words - all the wrong ones at that - been imbued with more feeling.

Like that repetitious refrain, the plot of Lloyd George Knew My Father could fit on a postage stamp but it is a gem of subtlety, offering the most delicious opportunities for phrasing and interpretation.

In less able hands, they might be squandered, but not with Lister and Derek Nimmo at the helm. More than two decades since its debut, William Douglas Home's gentle satire about the eccentricities of the English upper-class warms like the best vintage wine, thanks to these wonderful professionals.

A feisty old girl threatens to do herself in because a dual carriageway is to be built through the grounds of her ancestral pile. On that flimsy frame, Douglas Home crafted a play that has not just survived, but can still hold an audience captivated withits wit, poignancy and masterly construction.

This is quintessential British comedy and Lister and Nimmo are not alone in bringing it to life. Frank Williams revels in his role as the Reverend Trevor Simmonds, every nervous blink and painful blush in perfect sympathy with that humble vicar, and Angus Lennie positively creaks as the ancient family retainer, loyal to the last.

Solid performances also come from Jeremy Sinden and Delia Lindsay, while Graeme Henderson and the vivacious Samantha Cones exhibit plenty of promise as the youngsters of the piece.

On stage, as in real life, these eight, meticulously directed by Hugh Goldie and handsomely served by designer Terry Parsons, represent three generations of British theatre. Long may it prosper.