David Yelland



Simon Beresford

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★★★★☆  MATTHEW KELLY and DAVID YELLAND are on top form heading an ensemble who highlight the way that art is both magical and mundane: that everything is provisional, everything is a process, be it writing or acting or composing or love or friendship. This first revival of Bennett’s follow-up to The History Boys shows it to have wild amounts of resonance and heart, clarity as well as cleverness. And plenty of laughs. It’s a hell of a tightrope walk, but Philip Franks’s production makes it look easy. Ambitious, revealing and hugely entertaining.
Dominic Maxwell, The Times

★★★★☆ The two great men are superbly rendered by MATTHEW KELLY as the veteran “Fitz” who becomes Auden, and DAVID YELLAND as the more restrained Henry who is being Britten.  Kelly’s Auden is rubicund and scruffy, sexually and reputationally reckless but a great and open heart, pining for his ever-unfaithful partner Chester.  Yelland gives Britten all his precise, tweedy nervousness and buttoned-down, closeted yearning for boyish beauty and innocence. 
Libby Purves, Theatre Cat

★★★★★The production boasts a stellar ensemble cast, led by MATTHEW KELLY and DAVID YELLAND. Kelly portrays Fitz/WH Auden, both grappling with the struggles of ageing minds and bodies, with fierceness and sensitivity. He delivers Bennett’s pithy dialogue with a nuanced command of tone that transforms what could be taken as inane rambling into colourful monologues that you can’t turn your gaze from. DAVID YELLAND is similarly engaging as Henry/Benjamin Britten. His Britten is delicate and tight-lipped, a completely believable mixture of palpable repression, fragile ego and quiet warmth. In Henry we see reflected the same qualities, with Yelland bringing out more warmth and less ego.  “The Habit of Art”, while often touted as a meeting of two of Britain’s great artists, goes far beyond a simple portrayal of two characters. It is first and foremost a play of resonant themes, exploring art, ageing, legacy and heartache. Philip Franks and a captivating cast bring these themes to life in a way which is at times hilarious, at others moving, but always deeply human. Thought-provoking and expertly played, this is not a production to be missed.
Sarah Ryan, Broadway World

★★★★★ The interplay between MATTHEW KELLY and DAVID YELLAND as Henry/Britten works beautifully. Yelland portrays Britten as a fidgeting neurotic wrapped in the half-smile of decorum. But underneath there lies a large and fragile ego. When Auden punctures his artistic pretension by claiming Britten’s musical inspirations are not classical and high-minded but his lust for boys, Yelland’s repressed white-knuckle rage is palpable. Funny and tender by turns, you feel for the man – both men – and their jointly-owned self-doubt.
Chris Titley, York Mix

★★★★★ Philip Franks’s unshowy direction is text-true, his cast uniformly stunning. MATTHEW KELLY and DAVID YELLAND brilliantly essentialise Auden and Britten.
Clare Brennan, The Observer.

“David Yelland proves a tremendous Henry IV, capturing all the guilt, filthy temper and physical frailty of the man, as well as his deep grief over his son’s waywardness.”
- Charles Spencer (The Telegraph)

“Yelland, striding on with confidence… charts Henry’s mind through expert shaping of the verse.”
- Timothy Ramsden (

“It is David Yelland who perfectly portrays the refined art historian Anthony Blunt.”
- Julie Watterson (The Stage)

“David Yelland was excellent as the cold, rather hard-boiled Blunt bringing colour to what could have been a long-winded role.”
- Carol Evans (The Public Reviews)

“As Blunt, a distinguished-looking David Yelland is by turns waspishly amusing, guardedly courteous and primly evasive – an outsider at the heart of the establishment.”
- Dominic Cavendish (The Telegraph)


“David Yelland pushes the character, wonderfully, to the apex of absurd sententiousness.”
- Dominic Cavendish (The Telegraph)

“The performances are strong throughout. David Yelland milks every possible laugh from his pompous professor, a hypochondriac”
- (The Stage)

“...there is a peach of a performance from David Yelland as her (Yelena) insufferably tetchy, pompous husband”.
- Michael Billington (The Guardian)

“David Yelland’s splendidly pompous Professor.”
- Kate Bassett (The Independent)

“David Yelland’s interpretation strikes the right note of charmless, speechifying pomposity.”
- (

“David Yelland makes the absentee host as memorable as anyone is likely to get in this role. The gouty old codger is cruelly self-centred as he whines and dictates while sucking the family dry.”
- Philip Fisher (


“You would want the mighty David Yelland as the defence lawyer, Sir Wilfrid Roberts, fighting your corner”
- Dominic Maxwell (TheTimes)

“David Yelland has the right smooth, upper-class assurance as Vole’s defence counsel.”
- Michael Billington (The Guardian)


Eyes: Blue   
Hair: Mid-Colour   
Height: 5'11"   

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