A Handbag

Anthony Horowitz's play-within-a-play comes to Edinburgh

By Lee Levitt, August 18, 2010

Anthony Horowitz's dark comedy about survival is set during a dress rehearsal of "The Importance of Being Earnest". The cast are six young offenders and the play-within-a-play, set in an institution, explores whether they are beyond salvation.

It is a clever conceit to have characters conventionally associated with low culture analysing a work of high culture, whose lavish setting could not be more at odds with their own.

And in a worthy, anger-fuelled performance by pupils at Bablake School in Coventry, Chris Lamb, as Specs, mutates from a stammering, scuttling wreck into an erudite actor, while Allan, an abused runaway played with venom by Danny Lightfoot, rejects Oscar Wilde's play as being written by "a disgusting old pervert" and as "cobblers". Not too much hope there, then.

However, there are no easy answers and Horowitz opts rather to air the topical issue in this 2009 play than to offer a quick-fix solution.

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Diverse Attractions, until 21 August

Last updated: 10:16am, August 18 2010