Bath Chronicle

Good Life star returns to Bath in new comedy


One of the country’s best-loved actresses, Penelope Keith, is to star in one of two new shows unveiled for the Theatre Royal in Bath.

Dame Penelope Keith is to star in a new production, the bitter-sweet comedy Two Cigarettes in the Dark, which visits the Theatre Royal from April 18 to April 23 as part of a UK tour.

Meanwhile The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter, will star Mathew Horne and Keith Allen in its run from March 30 to April 9 ahead of a UK tour.

Dame Penelope first became a household name with her Bafta award-winning portrayal of Margot Leadbetter in BBC’S The Good Life, before starring as Audrey fforbesham­ilton in To The Manor Born and Maggie in Next of Kin.

In the West End, she has portrayed many iconic roles including Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, the title role in Mrs Warren’s Profession and Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit; all production­s

which played Bath’s Theatre Royal prior to their London transfer.

On stage she won an Olivier Award in 1976 for her role in the original production of Michael Frayn’s Donkey’s Years. Her most recent television appearance­s include Penelope Keith’s Hidden Villages and Penelope Keith’s Coastal Villages on Channel 4.

She was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in the New Year Honours 2014.

She is set to perform at the Theatre Royal for the first time in a decade when she stars in Stephen Wyatt’s Two Cigarettes in the Dark, directed by Alan Strachan.

The play visits the theatre as part of a UK tour produced by Jonathan Church Theatre Production­s and

Cambridge Arts Theatre.

Dame Penelope said: “Following this difficult period for regional theatres I am delighted to be bringing this new play to a group of theatres and audiences who have been important to me over the years.

“When I read Stephen’s touching and amusing play which has at its centre a (rare to find) role for an actress of a certain age, I knew immediatel­y I wanted to play the part and bring this play to audiences across the country.”

Stephen Wyatt has been a prolific writer for radio, television, operetta and theatre for almost 50 years.

His original play The Fairest Isle won the Sony Award for Best Audio Play in 1995.

Two Cigarettes in the Dark reunites Penelope Keith with long-time collaborat­ors director Alan Strachan (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Entertaini­ng Angels, Hay Fever) and designer Simon Higlett.

Meanwhile, the new staging of Harold Pinter’s masterpiec­e The Homecoming will be directed by

Jamie Glover.

Produced by Theatre Royal Bath Production­s, the UK tour opens in Bath.

This bleakly funny exploratio­n of family and relationsh­ips is a modern classic, which won four Tony Awards on Broadway in 1967 including Best Play. Star of BBC’S Gavin & Stacey, Mathew Horne (Death in Paradise, Bad Education), is cast as Lenny while versatile actor, comedian and musician Keith Allen (The Pembrokesh­ire Murders, Pinter 3 in the West End, Shallow Grave, The Comic Strip Presents…) plays brutal patriarch, Max. The Homecoming, which received its world premiere at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre in 1965, is widely regarded as Pinter’s finest play. General booking for both production­s at the Theatre Royal Bath are now open and tickets can be purchased from the box office on 01225 448844 or online at www. theatreroy­

 ?? Pic: BBC ?? The cast of 1970s sitcom The Good Life with, far right, Penelope Keith; inset top right, Keith Allen; inset below right, Mathew Horne
Pic: BBC The cast of 1970s sitcom The Good Life with, far right, Penelope Keith; inset top right, Keith Allen; inset below right, Mathew Horne
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