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Review: The Importance of Being Earnest – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 9 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 9 Apr, 2013
Jack and Algie

Algie (Jim Alexander) and Jack (Tom Butcher) both Ernest

by The Stage Dragon

The Yvonne Arnaud hosts a real classic for all theatre lovers this week, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest performed by the Middle Ground Theatre Company Ltd.

This timeless comedy of manners tells the story of two young bachelors who assume convenient fictitious identities whenever their social responsibilities become tiresome. But what seems like a brilliant plan becomes very complicated, once two beautiful ladies are involved.

With its brilliant satirical wit and farcical elements, it remains as fresh and amusing today as when it was first performed in 1895.

Lane

Lane (Gerry Hinks)

Wilde’s ‘trivial comedy for serious people’ was written at the height of his career and remains his best known work. It’s no doubt a daunting task to put on a play as well known and loved as this.

After a slightly flat start,  where the lines felt a little recited and the acting stiff, the leads grew into their characters.  And by the time the second act started it did feel like we were seeing real characters, losing our awareness of actors acting.

Loveable rogue Mr. Algernon Moncrieff, played  by Jim Alexander was the highlight of the leading cast. Fiona Organ was also endearing as the lively Cecily Cardew.

The supporting cast also deserve a mention, particularly Gerry Hinks who played the different roles of aloof city butler Lane and doddery country butler Merryman. His cynical asides as Lane and physical comedy as Merryman often got the most enthusiastic laughs from the audience.

The sets were fantastic and were only changed during the intervals (there were two during this production), which allowed them to be more lavish than the ones we usually get to see. The garden setting in act two is worth a special mention and was a joy to behold for a full half hour.

Overall, it didn’t quite do full justice to Wilde’s sparkling dialogue. I t was not quite as good as some other productions I have seen. However, it was still a very enjoyable evening, spent in the company of some of theatre’s best loved characters.

The Importance of being Earnest will run at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday 13th April.

Jack & Gwendolen

Jack & Gwendolen (Corinne Wicks)

 

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