Felic­ity Ken­dal is no Mrs Good in this risque romp of se­duc­tions and scan­dal inside a not-so-re­spectable Bri­tish fam­ily

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - LIFE & STYLE -

ETHE­REAL is a word that comes to mind when you think of Felic­ity Ken­dal. For some of us, she will al­ways be the cheru­bic Bar­bara Good from the mid-1970s tele­vi­sion se­ries The Good Life. It made her a house­hold name, and face, in Aus­tralia.

There is much more to the 67-yearold ac­tor’s re­sume, of course, but it’s for their screen roles that we tend to best re­mem­ber peo­ple.

More re­cently, we got to know Ken­dal in the 22-episode, rather gen­teel crime se­ries Rose­mary & Thyme, in which she played the gar­den­ing de­tec­tive Rose­mary Boxer. But it’s The Good Life that made her name and she doesn’t mind – although she is quick to scotch any idea that she was like that character.

Ken­dal is head­ing to Bris­bane next month to star in the Noël Coward com­edy of bad man­ners Hay Fever, and when she de­scribes it as a play that is “light and silly but has hid­den depths” you won­der if that is some sort of metaphor for how we might have mis­tak­enly seen her.

It’s hard to get the good-na­tured, elfin Mrs Good out of our minds, but we must – and for a very sound rea­son.

“Bar­bara Good wasn’t a real per­son,” Ken­dal says.

The bag­gage of be­ing Bar­bara Good has been with her through­out a long and suc­cess­ful ca­reer. Last year, this was brought into sharp fo­cus when Ken­dal was star­ring in Alan Ay­ck­bourn’s Rel­a­tively Speak­ing at Wyn­d­ham’s The­atre in London’s West End. Ken­dal caused some­thing of a sen­sa­tion at the time by be­ing more can­did than most about her past.

She is also revered in Bri­tain, for her role as Bar­bara Good along­side Richard Bri­ers, who played her screen hus­band, Tom Good.

The Goods were try­ing to live a self­suf­fi­cient life­style, one that con­flicted sharply with that of their neigh­bours, the Lead­bet­ters, played fa­mously by Pene­lope Keith and Paul Ed­ding­ton.

Bri­ers’ death, early in 2013, gave Ken­dal pause to re­flect and talk about her love life, which in­cludes three mar­riages and a time with play­wright Tom Stop­pard.

She is now mar­ried to the­atre di­rec­tor Michael Rudman, with whom she split dur­ing her time with Stop­pard.

When she was be­ing quite can­did about all this in 2013, London news­pa­per the Daily Mail asked the ob­vi­ous ques­tion in a head­line: What would Bar­bara Good say? This showed how the role that made her still res­onated decades later.

As Ken­dal pointed out, though, she isn’t Bar­bara Good, so it doesn’t mat­ter.

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel grate­ful that her character is so loved and re­mem­bered in Aus­tralia, and she as­sures us she won’t mind be­ing recog­nised as Bar­bara Good when she’s here.

“I mean, as an ac­tor you want to be looked at and ap­pre­ci­ated, so it’s a nice thing,” Ken­dal says.

But, of course, there’s so much more to her than that. And, in a way, that Cowar­dian ploy of the at­trac­tive ve­neer hid­ing deeper mean­ing is quite per­ti­nent.

In Hay Fever, Ken­dal plays Ju­dith Bliss, ma­tri­arch of the Bliss fam­ily. She’s a on­ceglit­ter­ing star of the London stage who is now in early re­tire­ment, still en­joy­ing life and look­ing for a bit of drama.

To spice up her week­end she has in­vited a young suitor to join her in the coun­try.

It just so hap­pens that her ego­cen­tric nov­el­ist hus­band and two of their ec­cen­tric

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