Review - The Importance of Being Earnest: sophistication and good timing
The Importance of Being Earnest
By Oscar Wilde
Directed by Pat O’Callaghan
Act 1 Theatre
Season: Feb 17-March. 4 Bookings: 0458 579 269 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It is always interesting to look back on a period of relatively recent history, or society, through the eyes of a writer of that period rather than what historians have decided for us. That is the case with this play written by Oscar Wilde at the end of the Victorian era in 1895. It is often considered to be his most successful play and the last he wrote before his fall from grace. Act 1 has successfully performed this with the right sophistication and timing to the enjoyment of the audience.
John Worthington lives in the country but pretends to be a brother, Earnest, in London when he wants to escape. He has a ward, Cecily Cardew, who would love to meet the brother. Meanwhile Algernon Moncrieff, Earnest’s friend in the city, uses the reverse of the same system by escaping to other places to meet his “brother”, Bunbury. Add to that Algernon’s aunt, the aristocratic and dominating Lady Bracknell and his niece Hon Gwendolen Fairfax and you have the potential for a biting but humorous look at the society of the time – manners, love, wealth.
The pace of the play was set immediately by Jake Hollingsworth in the role of Algernon Moncrieff, the bunburying man and the most manipulative of them all. He used the stage really well keep the pace which is so important in this play. Gary Farmer, as his friend John Worthington, also known as Jack and Ernest, had a more serious staid part and at times lacked a little oomph and volume. Outstanding in a good solid cast were the two belles who loved the name, Ernest. Elodie Boal as Gwendolen Fairfax and Monica Lynch as Cecily Cardew were both outstanding and I could see why the men wanted to marry those characters.
The crucial role of Lady Bracknell needed to be a little more the dominating type to control her scenes. Anne Wilson had moments of perfection but it was not consistent and Ian Peters made an excellent Rev. Canon Chasuble.
Director, Pat O’Callaghan, maintained a good pace in this difficult play and his team have given him a practical and effective set. Unfortunately there were some period clashes with regard to costumes and props but these were very minor in the overall standard of this production.
It is playing to March 4 which gives you time to see this “Trivial Comedy for Serious People” for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.