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Lead role in new play marks actor’s 30 years in profession

CENTRE STAGE: Cathy Tyson

BAFTA AND Golden-Globe nominated actor Cathy Tyson will take to the stage in Birmingham this week when she plays a lead role in a brand new production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Tyson, who got her big break 30 years ago in the film Mona Lisa starring alongside Michael Caine and the late Bob Hoskins, plays the iconic Lady Bracknell in the Oscar Wilde classic which has been given a fresh contemporary twist by director Nikolai Foster.

It will run at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre from September 9 until September 24 when it moves to Leicester Curve from October 11 to 29.

Tyson, who also runs her own theatre company, said: “People should expect a lot of fun with this play. It’s very uplifting. Come and enjoy Wilde’s words and his witticisms.

“Initially, it was quite daunting taking on such an iconic role as Lady Bracknell, but I think it is her lines that first drew me. She’s very blunt, but also hilarious.

“I’ve been playing about with her lines for weeks in my home, so I feel a bit of ownership now. Lady Bracknell is so well known. I’ve played Ophelia, Cleopatra and lots of other famous characters, but people have a really personal view on Lady Bracknell. They quote lines back at you – it’s lovely because they are theirs as well. She’s a real tonic.”

Tyson launched her theatre company Pitch Lake Productions to help young black and ethnic minority people at the beginning of their career and foster leadership skills.

She said: “The ‘creative case for diversity’ has highlighted a dearth of black people in leadership roles in arts organisations and we want to address this.”

On marking 30 years since the film Mona Lisa, Tyson said: “It gave me a big break didn’t it? And I just feel grateful that I’m still in this profession. I’ve spent 30 years in it, in this gypsy like life where you leave home for two and a half months.

“But you know I’m just grateful people want to come out of their house and see a play in the evening. I get a lot of pleasure from live theatre; I’m indebted to Mona Lisa – I should watch it again!”

Other cast members in the Importance of Being Earnest include Sharan Phull as repressed romantic Cecily Cardew; Edward Franklin as upper-class playboy Algernon Moncrieff; Fela Lufadejue as the dependable John (Jack) Worthing; Angela Clarkin as the uptight nanny Miss Prism; Dominic Gately as the incorruptible Reverend Chasuble; Darren Bennett as the ever-faithful servants Lane and Merriman and Martha Mackintosh as prim and proper Gwendolen Fairfax.

For more information, contact Birmingham Rep box office: 0121 236 4455

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