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Monday 02 September 2019

Interview: Actor Liza Goddard Talks Ahead Of Starring Role In A Woman of No Importance @ Theatre Royal Brighton

Actor Liza Goddard tells us about starring in Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance - coming to Theatre Royal Brighton - and looks back on her eventful career.

"It's a bit like a Poirot," explains Liza Goddard. 

"You've got a big country house party bringing everyone together in one place… but there's no murder! 

"There is a bit of a mystery and a lot of comedy, though." 

The veteran performer is excitedly talking about A Woman of No Importance, the Oscar Wilde production she's currently starring in, which, she beams, completes her Wilde collection. 

She's previously played both Cecily and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Mrs Cheveley in An Ideal Husband and both Mrs Erlynne and Lady Agatha in Lady Windermere's Fan.

A Woman of No Importance is, Goddard says: 

"Like all his plays, actually quite deep. I think people have the idea, a bit like with Alan Ayckbourn, that they're just comedies, but there's much more to them. 

"A Woman of No Importance observes women and what happened in that society to a woman if she had a child out of wedlock. 

"She would be reviled and the man would get off scot free… which actually happens a lot today, doesn't it?"

Goddard plays Lady Hunstanton, the hostess in Wilde's party-set play. 

"She's a terrible gossip," laughs Goddard, "and a bit doolally as well."

"I first played Brighton with The Importance of Being Earnest in 1970 when they still had a call boy who turned up to say: 'Miss Goddard, this is your five minute call'. 

"In those days, there was a bar at the side of the stage. 

"You'd have actors having a pint, then they'd hear their cue coming, do their thing, come back, pick up their pint and carry on."

While I would stop well short of placing any such labels on Goddard, the actor is more than happy to have a natter, is full of stories about former colleagues and doesn't mind poking a bit of fun in her own direction.

She giggles her way through a recollection of starring opposite Coral Brown in Lady Windermere's Fan when it was filmed for the BBC in 1972. 

Brown, she says, refused to wear a red costume designed by the great Cecil Beaton because ""Dogs will think I'm a fire hydrant and piss on me!" She was fabulous!"

As we chat about taking the Classic Spring production around the country, Goddard chuckles

"I'm no longer a tour de force, more a force to tour." 

Over the last couple of decades, she's worked extensively in touring theatre, starring in, she says, "some fantastic shows that I wouldn't have been asked to play at the National or in the West End."

"I think [touring theatre]'s vital," she exclaims, adding that everyone "deserves to see these plays."

Goddard is now in her sixth decade in the entertainment industry and is very grounded about her own success: 

"I've never been one of those great big earners. I always just tried to make a living. 

"It's always been a case of finish one job and then wait to be offered another one. 

"None of it's planned, I've just been very fortunate. I'm still working and still loving it."

But if you ask her to name a career highlight, it isn't the screen appearances for which she is best known that leap to mind, it is her projects with playwright and director Alan Ayckbourn, who she has worked with repeatedly. 

"Working for him is, for me, the best theatre experience, because it's so enveloping. It's a complete ensemble. 

"He is such a great man that you all just want to do your best for him."

What can audiences expect from the one performance of A Woman of No Importance they see? 

"They'll come to see the wit – which is sadly lacking from a lot of modern plays – but they'll also get beautiful set and costumes, interesting characters, lots of laughs and a few really heartrending moments. It's just a damn good story."

For cast and more info about Classic Spring's A Woman of No Importance CLICK HERE

A Woman of No Importance at Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday 23rd to Saturday 28th September 2019. For tickets CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley & Matthew Amer


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