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dave chidley The Globe and Mail

In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, urban dandy Algernon Moncrieff fears a life of rural imprisonment. It's not a sentiment shared by Brian Bedford, the English-born, classically trained actor whose tour-de-force turn as Lady Bracknell in Earnest stole the show at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival last year.

Although Bedford has homes around the globe, including in Morocco and California, his favourite is his 1880s cottage - of which this dining room is a highlight - in the bucolic Ontario city. "I love that house," the 75-year-old says from New York, where he once again slipped into Lady Bracknell's corset this week for a Broadway run he's also directing. "I've had it 25 years. I won't easily leave it."

THE FRENCH DOORS: "They were added 17 years ago when I renovated the dining room to open the house up. It backs onto the patio and a garden that I built up from the mud. That made a huge difference because it made the room light and airy and utterly delightful to be in. I can eat my dinner looking out over the wisteria."

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THE DINING ROOM TABLE: "It's from Johnny's Antiques just outside Stratford, where I've bought a lot of my stuff over the years. I suspect that it's probably the same date of the house or a little older. It was the perfect shape for the room. I have people to dinner quite a bit and we can get eight around that table."

THE RUG: "I bought it 12 years ago in Morocco and it reminds me of there. I've gone and done a lot of work in Morocco, preparing plays as an actor and director. I learned my King Lear in a hotel suite on the edge of Saharan desert, where I cried out 'Howl! Howl!' and startled all the locals. I know they thought I was mad."

THE FLOORS: "They're old planks, and original to the addition that was built in the early 1900s. They're made of pine and are slender, not at all like the big wide ones of the living room, which was built earlier."

THE ANTIQUE HUTCH: "It came from the East Coast. What I love about it is that it's the perfect size and it's got the original paint still on it."

THE FISH ON THE WALL: "Those are beautiful engravings, dating to the 18th century. I got them at the Stratford antique show."

THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY: "I got that crazy lady up there at Gregory Connor Antiques in Stratford. Some people think it's a man in drag and some think it very scary. When Richard Monette [the late Canadian actor and Stratford Festival director]came to dinner, he had to sit looking away from the oil painting because he thought she was so spooky. But I rather like her."

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