Wendy Craig (pictured) will star in a new production of Oscar Wilde's classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest. The tour opens at Brighton's Theatre Royal on 20 January 2004 before continuing, until 20 March 2004, to seven further venues.

In Wilde's 1895 satire about upper class manners and morals, prim-and-proper Jack Worthington is in love with the equally prim-and-proper Gwendolyn Fairfax. His friend, Algernon Moncrieff is in love with Cecily Cardew. But both Gwendolyn and Cecily are in love with Ernest. And the imposing Lady Bracknell is distracted by a nanny with a dubious story about a handbag.

Craig, who plays Lady Bracknell, is best known for her screen roles in Butterflies, The Servant and The Forsyte Saga. Her most recent stage credits include Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals for the RSC, and last year's tour of Somerset Maugham's The Circle.

Craig is joined in the cast of the new production by Frank Middlemass (The Cherry Orchard on stage, The Archers on radio) and Josephine Tewson (A Woman of No Importance on stage, Keeping Up Appearances, Shelley on television).

The Importance of Being Earnest is directed by Christopher Luscombe and designed by Simon Higlett with lighting by Paul Pyant. Following Brighton, the Theatre Royal Bath production visits Woking, Darlington, Canterbury, Bath, Milton Keynes and Richmond, with additional dates to be confirmed.

- by Terri Paddock