The Importance Of Being Earnest in Eastbourne

Gwen Taylor in The Importance Of Being Earnest
Gwen Taylor in The Importance Of Being Earnest

National treasure Gwen Taylor will star as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest which makes a welcome return to the Devonshire Park Theatre stage this spring, from April 24-28.

She will star alongside Susan Penhaligon as Miss Prism,

Gwen is best known for playing the title role in ITV sitcom Barbara, as well as Anne Foster in Coronation Street, Peggy Armstrong in Heartbeat, Rita Simcock in A Bit of A Do, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA TV Best Actress Award, and Amy in Duty Free.

Her film appearances include Alan Bennett’s story The Lady In The Van and Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Gwen most recently played at the Devonshire Park as Mrs Bramson in Luke Sheppard’s critically acclaimed touring production of Emlyn Williams’s Night Must Fall.

Susan Penhaligon is currently appearing in Rufus Norris’s production of Cabaret alongside Will Young and Louise Redknapp. She has a wide range of TV credits to her name, including Upstairs Downstairs, Tales of the Unexpected, Bergerac and A Bouquet of Barbed Wire.

She played Judi Dench’s sister Helen in four series of the award-winning BBC sitcom A Fine Romance, and the regular role of Jean Hope in ITV’s Emmerdale.

Susan also played Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew for the BBC’s Shakespeare season.

Joining Gwen and Susan will be Hannah Louise Howell as Gwendolen who previously played the part directed by Alastair Whatley earlier this year at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Geoff Aymer who most recently appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Young Vic, Louise Coulthard who won the Lustrum Award at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe for her play Cockamamy, Thomas Howes, best known for playing William Mason in ITV’s Downtown Abbey, Peter Sandys-Clarke and Simon Shackleton.

Oscar Wilde’s greatly admired and much loved comedy The Importance Of Being Earnest follows Jack Worthing’s endeavours to marry Algernon’s cousin, the beautiful Gwendolen.

But first he must convince the fearsome Lady Bracknell of his respectability - easier said than done. Lady Bracknell is one of the most memorable and fearsome characters ever written, and Wilde humorously makes her the tool of the conflict, and much of the satire. For the play to end as a comedy, her objections and obstacles must be dealt with and overcome.

Wilde’s classic play looks at the clash of town and country in a story of romance, identity, perambulators and capacious handbags.

The production will be directed by The Original Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Alastair Whatley, who previously brought the successful Birdsong, Three Men In a Boat, Flare Path, Night Must Fall, Invincible and Wait Until Dark to Eastbourne.

Set and costume designs are by Gabriella Slade, sound and music by Giles Thomas and lighting by Alan Valentine. Tickets £18 – 25.50 are available online at or call 01323 412000.