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Ravenhill Reworks Wilde in Handbag at Lyric

By • West End
The world premiere of Mark Ravenhill's latest play opens next month at west London fringe venue the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. Handbag will run at the Lyric from 14 September to 10 October (with previews from 9 September) before embarking on 17-stop national tour which is due to conclude 5 December in Liverpool.

Ravenhill is best known for his Shopping and F***ing. The sexually explicit play about drug addicts and rent boys in London has caused waves during its two West End runs as well as in New York and on national and international tours. Ravenhill also recently collaborated with three other young playwrights on Sleeping Around, a satirisation of sex and relationships in modern Britain, for the Donmar Warehouse's new writing season in March of this year.

Handbag, subtitled The Importance of Being Someone, is inspired by Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and promises a radically contemporary re-interpretation of the work, Victorian values and the role of parenting in an age of sexual diversity.

Handbag is the second collaboration between Ravenhill and Actors Touring Company, following the acclaimed production of Faust in 1997. The company, founded in 1978, specialises in staging stylised versions of classic stories from contemporary playwrights such as Ravenhill, Paul Godfrey, Kenneth McLeish and Gregory Motton.

Handbag is directed by Nick Philippou who took over as artistic director of Actors Touring Compny in 1993. Phillipou productions have included Kenneth McLeish's Orpheus, as well as Saints and Sinners, Ion the Lost Boy Found, Venus and Adonis, The Modern Husband, Miss Julie, The Belle Vue, and most recently, Herakles at the Gate Theatre.

The cast for Handbag includes Tim Crouch, Faith Flint, Paul Rattray, Julie Riley, Celia Robertson and Andrew Scarborough. The production is designed by Gideon Davey with lighting by Simon Mills.

Following Hammersmith, Handbag will visit Bury St Edmunds, Stamford, Bedford, Lancaster, Stirling, Cambridge, Kidderminster, Bath, Tunbridge Wells, Brighton, Oundle, Warwick, Taunton, Cardiff, Rotherham and Liverpool.


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