Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz in Curtis Hanson's In Her Shoes On a recent visit to Bath I was struck by how spruce this beautiful city, briefly notorious in the 1960s for neglecting its Georgian heritage, is looking these days.
Here's another bit of Bath's heritage which has been lovingly restored. Christopher Morahan's enjoyable production for the city's Theatre Royal should remind us what was lost when Richard Brinsley Sheridan retired from theatre at the age of 28, having given the English stage (with The School for Scandal) two of its greatest comedies and the English language the word "malapropism".
A standard plot about young lovers outwitting their overbearing elders is tricked out with sketches of types familiar from Bath in its late 18th century heyday, like the Irish adventurer Sir Lucius O'Trigger and the upwardly-mobile countryman Bob Acres, though their servants seem to have come straight from Shakespeare's time, untouched by changing fashion.
But in Mrs Malaprop, the pretentious aunt of over-romantic heroine Lydia Languish, Sheridan created one of the great comic characters, here wonderfully recreated by Stephanie Cole as a kind of powdered cream puff busily mangling the language with her fluent linguistic approximations.
George Baker is spot-on as the bluff and brutal Sir Anthony Absolute, looking as though he has just stepped out of one of Gainsborough's full-length portraits (or, this being Bath, just finished posing for one).
These two roles are gifts for actors, but Nicholas Boulton adds value to Jack Absolute, giving weight and character to what might easily be a notional leading man. There are more good, characterful performances from Jasmine Hyde as Lydia, Kirsty Besterman as Julia and Jamie de Courcey as Faulkland. It's a classic, of course, but not one you get that many chances to see: well worth travelling for.