PETERCRAWLEY TO HELL IN A HANDBAG
Dolmen Theatre, Dublin. Oct 22-27 8pm ¤15 dolmentheatre.com What’s going on in the wings of Oscar Wilde’s glittering comic masterpiece? The depths of shadows in The Importance of Being Earnest has long been well understood, where a man can be Ernest in the city but Jack in country, and double meanings and double lives abound. (The play debuted shortly before Wilde’s infamous trial, and pulled from the stage as details of his own hidden existence emerged.) In Jonathan White and Helen Norton’s To Hell in a Handbag, the comedy and complexity of such secrets is extended to two of the play’s minor characters, Canon Chasuble and Miss Prism, played by the authors, charming and wickedly sharp comic actors both.
Debuted on the Fringe two years ago, and successfully toured since around Ireland and to the Edinburgh Fringe, their acclaimed production returns for a short local engagement before it tours again to southeast England as part of Culture Ireland’s GB18 programme. Between arranging last-minute adult christenings and scouring history for clues, the finicky churchman and the romantic governess reveal hidden lives within a serviceable précis of Wilde’s play, and an appropriately double-edged wit. On the tour they visit Worthing, where Wilde wrote the play, and took the name for his protagonist. Origins, as the play knows, are important too.
LyricTheatre,Belfast.Oct13-Nov10 7.45pm(SatandSunmat2.30pm) £10-£24.50lyrictheatre.co.uk Marie Jones, one of the most successful writers to come out of Northern Ireland, has a new play at this year’s Belfast Festival, which is an obvious cause for celebration. The play, though, emerges at a time when there is precious little to be thankful for. Developed from an earlier shorter piece, a 20-minute monologue commissioned by London’s Old Vic Theatre, Dear Arabella addresses the indignities visited upon women through repressive times, set in Jones’ native Belfast in the 1960s, a benighted time for gender and sexual equality.
The play features three women, played by Laura Hughes, Lucia McAnespie and Katie Tumelty, sharing stories of love, regret and loss, providing for each other a support network without even realising it. Directed by Lindsay Posner, the West End director who staged the London premiere of Death and the Maiden, the production may address the concerns of the #MeToo discreetly, poignantly aware that they have always been timely.