Gwen Taylor is leading lady in Wilde classic

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Devotees of Oscar Wilde will be delighted with the new production of his classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, which is coming to the Grand Opera House from February 20 - 24.

This is a wonderfully witty, deliciously decadent and classic revival from The Original Theatre Company, and stars national treasure Gwen Taylor.

Taking a swipe at the institution of marriage and the class system, Wilde’s renowned comedy tells the tale of Jack who wishes to marry Algernon’s cousin the beautiful Gwendolen, but first he must convince her mother, the fearsome Lady Bracknell, of the respectability of his parents and his past.

Gwen Taylor, famous for her many roles on British television over the years, including Duty Free, A Bit of A Do, Barbara, and Coronation Street, steps into the shoes of the formidable Lady Bracknell, who is determined to protect the honour of her beloved daughter.

This will be something of a homecoming for Gwen, who is married to Belfast playwright Bill Reid, who penned the famous Billy Plays back in the 1980s. In fact the couple met when Gwen played opposite Kenneth Branagh in one of the productions.

“We have been married for a long time now,” said Gwen. “I have been to Belfast lots of times but not recently so it will be lovely to get back.

“We spent several Christmases there and it will be lovely to retrace our steps.”

Talking about the show and her own role of Lady Bracknell, Gwen continued: “Lady Bracknell is described as a ‘gorgon’ and I think that is because she gets the best of the young man, so that is what he calls her, but I have loved playing her.

“She wants the best for her daughter and to protect her from making silly mistakes, and I think all parents feel like that about their children.”

Gwen will take to the stage alongside the delightful Susan Penhaligon (Upstairs Downstairs and Bergerac) as the hapless Miss Prism, Downton Abbey favourite Thomas Howes as Algernon, and with Broadway and West End star Kerry Ellis as Gwendolen.

The show runs at the Grand Opera House in Belfast from February 20 - 24 and tickets, priced from £13.75, are on sale from the Box Office on 028 90 241919 or online at