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Suchet feels the heat in drag role

Published 02/07/2015

David Suchet is starring in the new West End production at London's Vaudeville Theatre
David Suchet is starring in the new West End production at London's Vaudeville Theatre

David Suchet has admitted he felt "quite dizzy" performing on stage in full drag as Lady Bracknell in The Importance Of Being Earnest on the hottest July day recorded in the UK.

The Poirot star, 69, takes on the famous Oscar Wilde role in the new West End production at London's Vaudeville Theatre, which had its opening last night, and had to contend with the soaring temperatures on top of the stage lights, a wig, hat and various padding to give him the shape of a statuesque Victorian woman.

Suchet admitted he found the heat "unbelievable", adding: "I got quite dizzy at certain points. But the play is such a wonderful play to be in, you do forget after a while about being hot.

"The irony is, that when this play opened in London in 1895, it was the coldest day of the year. And we have opened it on the hottest day of the year so far."

Stars who turned out to support the veteran actor on opening night included Zoe Wanamaker, Angela Rippon, Samantha Bond and Linda Robson.

The Importance Of Being Earnest is Wilde's best known farce and the role of Lady Bracknell has been played countless times on stage and screen by the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith.

Suchet admitted he felt an enormous amount of pressure delivering the famous "handbag" line, which he chose to throw away with a laugh.

He explained: "It's extraordinary. On a press night, you're getting everybody who has seen the play before, it's not like an ordinary night, and playing a character like Lady Bracknell, you can almost feel everybody saying your lines with you. Especially the build-up to that handbag line, which hangs over every actor who ever plays it.

"When I studied the play, my interpretation is that the cloakroom at the railway station is a very seedy place for a handbag to be found. And actually the lines repeat cloakroom more than the handbag. Because that was where male homosexuality would have taken place, it was called cottaging, and of course Oscar Wilde would have known."

When Suchet bowed out of the role of Agatha Christie's famous Belgian detective Poirot in 2013, he said he would like to play the character one last time on the big screen. But he revealed that a film production based on Poirot is going ahead without him.

Asked if he was any closer to making a Poirot movie, he said: "No, in fact, I think there is a film going to be made in Hollywood, and it won't be with me, I haven't been approached. So it will be a new take, I think."

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