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Patricia Hayes (1909-98) was a very fine character actress. In the 1960s she played alongside Arthur Haynes in his comedy series as a tramp. Haynes died from a heart attack in 1966 aged only 52, but tramps are still with us. This 1971 play is no reprise to her comedy, Hayes plays Edna, a woman who although experiencing hard times has never seen good ones.
Although "Edna, The Inebriate Woman" is not a documentary, it might as well be. It takes a worm's eye view of society, focusing on those people who if they are lucky end up in prison for short spells during the winter months, who don't work for a living because no employer in his right mind would touch them, those who are not drunks, drug addicts, riddled with nits, unpleasant diseases, or simply old.
Ultimately there is no salvation for Edna, we don't really know who she is, or if anything she says about herself is true. Sad though it is, what does shine through here is the occasional kindness, which does not emanate from the bureaucrats, but from a doctor, and a charity worker who fits her up with a coat and new boots, little things like that.
It is easy to be kind to young, attractive people, be they women or men, but this is what love is really all about. It should come as no surprise that the man who wrote this, Jeremy Sandford, also wrote the iconic "Cathy Come Home" which was screened five years earlier. Nearly half a century on, - plus ça change!
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