Graham Whittaker, whom Alan Bennett himself portrayed in the BBC TV original production in 1987, takes serious offense at A Chip in the Sugar, a literal metaphor for an unwanted intruder in his life. Life has been just fine for Graham and his mother, who he lives with, cares for and relies on. His world is shaken by the sudden appearance of Frank Turnbull, an old flame of Graham’s mother.
Mr. Turnbull’s influence is keenly felt by Graham, and as he loses his grip on his mother, Vera, he fights to maintain the status quo. Although he doesn’t see it, his struggle to “get back to normal” may destroy his mother’s chance at happiness.
In many ways, by letting his characters tell their own stories, Alan Bennett gives us a window into why they are the way that they are. Many of his characters have made choices to let the world pass them by, or as one reviewer described Graham as “being smothered by his comfort blanket.”