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Lady bags it again in well-rounded classic.

Review Huddersfield Thespians: The Importance of Being Earnest Venue: Lawrence Batley Cellar Theatre Review: William Marshall THE simple phrase "a handbag!" is the equivalent of "To be or not to be" as a line which lls a theatre audience with anticipation, as they wait to see how the actor delivers it.

In the espians new production of Oscar Wilde's e Importance of Being Earnest, Prue Griths negotiates the handbag moment with considerable skill, as she did the slightly earlier "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness".

e rst night audience seemed to be on the verge of joining in at this point.

It is a very well-known play indeed full of Wildean wit and paradox but director Derek Smith has come up with a fairly fresh, lively production. For one thing, it is interesting to see this classic piece of proscenium arch comedy drama performed virtually in the round at the LBT Cellar. is inevitably results in greater intimacy and draws us more closely into the absurdist lives of these gilded Victorians as they enact one of the more bizarre courtship rituals ever staged.

e two male protagonists Algernon Moncrie and Jack Worthing are played by James Sharpe and Joe Geddes and their lively performances are further enlivened by the fact that they are genuinely quite young men as they are supposed to be.

I enjoyed Algy's loucheness and Jack's exasperation and once some initial issues of enunciation in what is an extremely wordy comedy drama had been overcome, both the juvenile male leads delivered uent, entertaining performances.

e two young women, Gwendolen and Cecily, are played by Poppy Stahelin and Amy Harrop, who skillfully negotiate the endlessly epigrammatic dialogue of the characters, with all their eccentricities. But the dominant character is the awful Lady Bracknell and Prue Griths excels in one of the great older-female roles. She plays the character not as an arch-battleaxe but as a scheming control freak and it results in an interesting and fairly subtle performance.

Christine Davies simpers well as the governess Miss Prism, whose carelessness with a baby and a handbag many years before had unwittingly set the play's events in motion.

In other roles we have Alun Jones and Peter Bowron as long-suering manservants and I particularly enjoyed the sing-song Anglican verbosity of Mick McParland as the Rev Canon Chasuble.

e Importance of Being Earnest continues until Saturday, when there is also a matinee.


Joe Geddes, Prue Griffiths (centre) and Poppy Stahelin in The Importance of |Being Earnest at the Lawrence Batley Cellar Theatre. 090315AT 090315A HESPIANS_03 SIMON MORLEY

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Mar 12, 2015
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