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Behind-the-Scenes

Rufus Hound and Les Dennis join Caroline Quentin, Alexandra Gilbreath and Jonathan Slinger in the RSC's upcoming revival of The Provoked Wife.

What makes a good marriage? Not a tedious, drunk husband that’s for sure in the case of Alexandra Gilbreath’s virtuous Lady Brute in The Provoked Wife, who’s pushed into a scandalous affair with a younger man, Constant. Recognise her admirer? Yes, it’s the return of comedian and TV presenter Rufus Hound…!

Rufus Hound and Alexandra Gilbreath. Rehearsal photos by Pete Le May

Rufus first appeared at the RSC as Sancho Panza alongside Channel 4’s Shameless star and RSC veteran David Threlfall, in 2016’s epic Don Quixote, which transferred to the Garrick Theatre last year.

Taking a break in between rehearsals

Philip Breen brings big frocks, big scandals and big laughs to Stratford-upon-Avon’s Swan Theatre stage, next month in John Vanbrugh’s scandalous 17th-century restoration romp. It all sounds pretty raucous!

The award-winning Liverpool-born director, whose previous RSC hits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Shoemaker’s Holiday and The Hypocrite, said: This company brings together a first-class line-up of established comic talent with some of the most exciting young actors I have seen making their professional debut on the RSC stage. 

Rufus Hound and company

The company

The Provoked Wife is an utterly unique comedy. With echoes of Nina Raine’s Consent and Noel Coward’s Private Lives, John Vanbrugh’s outspoken and – at times – scandalous comedy of marriage is hilarious, sharp and disturbing in equal measure.”  

Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin, who plays Lady Fancyfull, was last seen at the RSC iPhillip’s very funny production of Richard Bean’s The Hypocrite. Also famous for her role as journalist Maddy in BBC comedy detective series Jonathan Creek with Alan DaviesCaroline first appeared at the RSC in the original production of Les Misérables. 

Caroline Quentin

I’m really looking forward to the intimacy of a Restoration play, particularly in the Swan Theatre, ” she said: “If there was ever a theatre built to play an ‘aside’ then the Swan is it, because the audience is almost in your lap. And all of the characters do speak to the audience.  It’s as if you can turn your head and whisper in their ears. And the great thing about Phillip Breen is if you think you’re taking something too far, he makes you go further. 

Caroline Quentin and Sarah Twomey

Playing opposite Bucks-born actor Alexandra – who starred in the RSC’s innuendo-filled production of The Rover – as ‘her’ husband, Sir John Brute, is fellow RSC Associate Artist, Jonathan Slinger, below, known for his leading roles in Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard II and Richard III.  

Jonathan Slinger and company

A former stalwart of Saturday Night TV in the 80s and 90s, comedian/impressionist Les Dennis, makes his RSC debut as Colonel Bully. His most recent work includes End of the Pier at the Park Theatre, London, for which he was nominated for the OFFIE award for ‘Best Male in a Play’ and Uncle Fester in the UK Tour of The Addams Family.

Les Dennis, Ben Roddy, and Kevin N Golding

Interestingly, not only was John Vanbrugh a 17th Century playwright, but he also designed Blenheim Palace in neighbouring Oxfordshire and Castle Howard in York.

With such a stellar cast this is a definite must-see for the summer – if The Hypocrite’s anything to go by, you’ll be honking with laughter!

The Provoked Wife runs in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon from May 2 – Sept 7.  Tickets: rsc.org.uk, 01789 331111 

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