Veteran performer Liza Goddard is returning to Perth Theatre after 45 years to star in Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance from Monday 21 until Saturday 26 October.

“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.”

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, which is being brought to Perth Theatre by Classic Spring Theatre Company, directed by Shakespeare’s Globe’s longest running artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole. “She’s a terrible gossip,” laughs Goddard, “and a bit doolally as well.”

Over the last couple of decades, Goddard has 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. Since starting in the 60s, she has built an impressive career that includes children’s TV hits Skippy The Bush Kangaroo and Woof!, much-loved 80s charades panel show Give Us A Clue and pioneering drama focusing on the lives of a trio of women, Take Three Girls, the BBC’s first drama filmed in colour.

She is, though, 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.”

A Woman of No Importance is Goddard’s first job since January. After the death of her husband and hip replacement surgery last year, once the panto season had finished, she devoted 2019 to clearing and trying to sell her Norfolk home. But she can’t wait to get back in front of a live audience: “There’s such excitement to [theatre]; the marvellous communication between you and the audience. It’s the only time that one performance will ever be seen.”

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.”

“I haven’t played Perth Theatre in 45 years, since I was there when Joan Knight ran it and we used to do new plays by a writer called NC Hunter. When they did the theatre up, I bought a tile and a seat, so I’ll be able to go and find that when I am there.”

Also starring Roy Hudd, Isla Blair, Emma Amos and Katy Stephens, A Woman of No Importance in is Perth Theatre from Monday 21 to Saturday 26 October. For tickets and info for A Woman of No Importance click here or call Horsecross Arts Box Office on 01738 621031.

Monday 21 October 2019