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A Handbag??

I’m not sure whether to describe last night’s trip to Malvern Theatres as a visit to the theatre or the cinema. The ticket was twice the price of their cinema tickets, but only half the price of a theatre ticket. And the venue was neither the cinema nor the theatre, but the third, flexible performing space, the Forum. I don’t go there very often – in fact I think the last time was to a John Williams concert with Chris.  Perhaps fortunately, I didn’t recall that fact until after I’d got home.

The occasion was a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, filmed a few months ago on Broadway, and projected onto a large screen in HD. So it was like a cross between a “proper” theatre performance (actors playing in front of a live audience, no second takes) and the cinema (multiple camera angles, close-ups, a better view of the action that one would get even from the best seats in the house). It felt quite odd, as the cast clearly had a rapport going with the audience – but not with our audience.

Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell

As you would expect from a top Broadway performance, the scenery, costumes and cast were all superb. Wilde can be quite tricky to pull off, to make the unending stream of witticisms sound natural. But they did it very well. Lady Bracknell was quite a revelation. She was played by the director, Brian Bedford. Yes, a man! And he did it pretty straight too – not at all as a man in drag or a pantomine dame. In fact he was a very believable and terrifying elderly dragon – he said in a recorded interview that was part of the performance, that he was channelling some of the really formidable old women he had met throughout his career.

The performance had been very badly publicised locally (I’d only come across it by accident on the Malvern Theatres website) so the venue was almost empty. A real shame, as it was a superb opportunity to see a really top-class production at a bargain price. I bumped into some friends, Sue and Nic, and moved to sit with them as there was plenty of space. We stayed on for a drink and gossip afterwards, so as a result I didn’t get home until well past my bedtime!  It was a really good evening out. Now I know that Malvern Theatres do that sort of performance, I shall keep a look out for more.