Penelope Keith returns to the West End in January 2008 as she leads the cast of The Importance Of Being Earnest when it arrives at the Vaudeville following a national tour. The actress, considered British comedy royalty for her roles in television sitcoms The Good Life and To The Manor Born, plays Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's ever-popular comedy of manners which runs from 22 January to 26 April (press night 29 January).
The Importance Of Being Earnest, which was first performed in 1895, follows the love lives of London aristocrat Algernon Moncrieff and country-dweller Jack Worthington. Both fall in love, but both of their sweethearts have eyes only for Ernest. A tale of unknown identity, the imposing presence of Lady Bracknell and Wilde's witty dialogue add to the confusion and the hilarity.
Keith was last seen on the London stage in 2004, starring in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Savoy, another transfer from the Theatre Royal Bath. Her other stage credits include Time And The Conways, Entertaining Angels, Relatively Speaking and Donkeys’ Years, for which she won the 1976 Laurence Olivier Award for Comedy Performer of the Year.
Keith is joined in this production by Janet Henfrey, Tim Wylton, William Ellis, Harry Hadden-Paton, Daisy Haggard, Rebecca Night, Maxwell Hutcheon and Roger Swaine. It is directed by Peter Gill with design by William Dudley.
The Importance Of Being Earnest is preceded at the Vaudeville by Swimming With Sharks, a comic thriller in which Christian Slater plays incendiary Hollywood producer Buddy Ackerman, who always gets what he wants. Helen Baxendale also stars.