As seen in The Irish Times
TO HELL IN A HANDBAG ★★★★
Bewley’s Café Theatre @ Powerscourt
It takes guts to attach a new piece of theatre to the funniest play ever written. But Helen Norton and Jonathan White, actors and writers, have pulled off a coup with their enchanting visit to the outer rim of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Remembering a famous Tom Stoppard piece, we might call it ‘Canon Chasuble and Miss Prism are Dead’.
Most of the action takes place on the same day as the last act of Wilde’s play. In between arrangements for adult Christenings, the fussy churchman and the romantically inclined governess reveal hidden lives, imposed on them by the pressures of Victorian economics. White’s Pooterish Chasuble, delightfully rendered in shades of ecclesiastic grey, seems to have merely stumbled into guilty deceit. In contrast, the impressively sharp Norton – whose fluting vowels suggest Edith Evans as much as they do Margaret Rutherford – exposes Miss Prism as a veritable maestro of deception.
Played out before an inevitable houseplant, To Hell in a Handbag packs extraordinary amounts of plot and top-notch gags into a compact package. Stay focussed for an excellent pun involving a town in Offaly.
Until Sept 24