This autumn audiences can enjoy not just one but two classic Alan Bennett plays at the Rose Theatre - in one night.

Travel back to the time of tit-for-tat espionage, with the Soviet Union's spies facing off against the West's in tales of chance meetings and art world intrigue.

Both An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution are coming to Kingston in September and October, featuring a  cast of consumate stage actors including Michael Pennington, Alexander Hanson and Helen Schlesinger.

For director Sarah Esdaile, this is her third time directing Bennett's work.

She says both plays are "witty and accessible" and, because of their similar themes, fit together well.

She says: "They're absolutely brilliant pieces and stand alone in their own right. Part of the challenge for a director is not to make it feel like tapas followed by a curry.

"It's brilliantly clever. The more you delve, the more you find.

"I think there's a responsibility, because audiences love him and they love [Bennett's] writing.

"It's fine for audiences to come to it. He's not an intellectual snob in any way."

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Michael Pennington

But she adds: "When you do any revival of a play there's a question of, 'Why now?'"

In a time where many people feel politicians are not offering clear messages, Esdaile feels, characters who have strong beliefs will stand out even more.

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Helen Schlesinger

Rose chief executive Robert O’Dowd said: "We are very excited to be staging Alan Bennett’s brilliant Single Spies in celebration of his eightieth birthday year. Sarah has assembled an excellent cast."

An Englishman Abroad is the tale of an actress' serendipitous meeting with a disgraced spy in Moscow.

A Question of Attribution follows an art expert trying to solve a riddle in a painting - but who later comes under the watchful eye of MI5.

Single Spies; Rose Theatre, High Street, Kingston; September 25 - October 11, 7.30pm plus matinees; various prices; visit