Sunday Independent Review

As seen in Sunday Independent – September 18th 2016

Had Oscar Wilde lived to a ripe and contented age and taken to farce, he might have written To Hell in a Handbag. It’s wickedly, side-splittingly funny, in a sophisticated, witty and elegant way, so it really belongs in the mainstream on a main stage rather than in the quirky mayhem of a Fringe Festival. But it’s still an ornament to that Fringe.

The play offers an answer to what Miss Prism and Canon Chasuble got up to while Lady Bracknell was arranging a suitable future for Mr Jack Worthing and Mr Algernon Moncrieff in the former’s drawing room at the Manor House, Woolton. You don’t even have to be familiar with The Importance of Being Earnest to be enchanted, while if you’re already a fan, you’ll never see the dithering cleric and the palpitating governess in the same light again.

To Hell in a Handbag is written and played by Helen Norton and Jonathan White, and they have even managed to incorporate a newcomer’s guide to the back action of the “real” play, without labouring any points, while their mastery of prim Victorian dialogue is as brilliant as their comic timing.

The production is part of the Fishamble Show in a Bag initiative, and is at Bewley’s at Powerscourt, directed faultlessly by Conor Hanratty, and designed by Maree Kearns with costumes by Saileog O’Halloran. Lighting is by Colm Maher and sound by Brendan Breslin.

This is a joyous romp not to be missed, a worthy homage to its master and progenitor.

Emer O’Kelly

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