ONE of the great characters gracing the world of the arts is the legendary author, playwright and raconteur Alan Bennett.

Now one of his outstanding works is coming to Malvern this week starring the Olivier Award winning Matthew Kelly and David Yelland, who will be playing the parts of a very well known author and an equally famous composer.

The pair will be on stage together in the Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal presentation of the first ever revival of Bennett’s, The Habit of Art.

It’s directed by the distinguished and award-winning Philip Franks and explores friendship, rivalry and heartache, the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity. Television fans will probably remember him starring in the Darling Buds of May and Heartbeat.

Bennett’s play is centred on a fictional meeting between poet WH Auden and composer Benjamin Britten and was written 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 (Fitz) rooms at Oxford not long before he dies. Britten (Henry) 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.

Kelly, who has fashioned a considerable acting career having been known for a number of years as a tv quiz host, has such West End credits as Waiting For Godot with Ian McKellan and Roger Rees, Tim Firth’s play Sign of the Times, the musical Lend Me A Tenor! and Lennie in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of Of Mice and Men at the Savoy Theatre, for which he won the Olivier Award for Best Actor.

Meanwhile Yelland’s most recent theatre credits include Witness for the Prosecution (London County Hall), A Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare’s Globe), while in the West End he won the Clarence Derwent Award for his part in Richard III at the Savoy.

On television he has played the title role in David Copperfield, Nick Rumpole in Rumpole of the Bailey, and in several well known series and has also been in a number of successful films.

Veronica Roberts will be joining the cast in the role of Kay, the Stage Manager. She is perhaps best known for playing Dorothy Bennett in the BBC drama Tenko and Laura Elliot in ITV’s Peak Practice, but has been in numerous stage productions.

The Habit of Art opens at the