The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THETAKE CRITICS’ CHOICE -


Dol­men Theatre, Dublin. Oct 22-27 8pm ¤15 dol­menthe­ 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-£24.50lyricthe­ 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.

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