The Importance of Being Earnest
5 Star Rating *****
The Importance of Being Earnest is a play I wanted to see for a long time and Classic Spring company happened to be doing this as part of their Oscar Wilde season. It was to be the last play Oscar Wilde wrote, before his death in 1900. In this particular production, the Director is Michael Fentimen, who, in my opinion has done an excellent job.
- Fehinti Balogun plays Algernon Montcrieff
- Geoffrey Freshwater plays Lane
- Jacob Fortune Lloyd plays John Worthing (Jack/Earnest)
- Sophie Thompson plays Lady Bracknell
- Pippa Nixon plays Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax
- Stella Gonet plays Miss Prism
- Fiona Button plays Cecily Cardew
- Tim Gibson plays Moulton
- Jeremy Swift plays Rev. Canon Chasuble
The play is about love, relationships and class. It is a witty and yet somewhat satirical play that covers all the aforementioned themes. It’s as deep as it is light.
Is the principle character John or Jack or Earnest? Where did he come from, besides a handbag? A very ordinary black handbag at that.
The play consists of 3 acts with a interval after the first.
The Vaudeville Theatre Set is minimalist but effective. The first act has a lovely backdrop to suggest a sitting room with, most notably a piano within it.
There are laughs to be had from the beginning opening lines, after wonderfully played piano music has filled the air.
The interactions between Algernon, Earnest and Bracknell are brilliantly executed and witty in the first act. There is a great conversation about fools and cleverness. “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”, is one of the great quotes from this act. As are the interactions with Gwendolen Fairfax who is played, somehow better than I expected by Pippa Nixon.
Lady Bracknell, is snobbish and aristocratic. Suitors had better beware as they are practically interrogated as notes are taken. The character is theatrically played by Sophie Thomson.
Jacob Fortune and Fehinti Balogun, who play John (or is he Jack or Earnest?) and Algernon Montcrieff, give a sustained strong performances throughout the entire play.
The scenery has changed to that of a garden with flowers and grasses at the back, and a table and chairs. Again it is a minimalist set, but effective. Here is where the audience is first introduced to Miss Prism, played by Stella Gonet and Fiona Button. The acting from both is strong. Fiona Button plays a very emotional and sentimental character, which she does convincingly and well.
Stella Gonet plays Miss Prism very well. She is an absolute delight to watch on stage.
Set in an empty hall, but again the scenery designers have done it well to give the stage a sense of place with wooden surrounds and garden outdoors as Christenings and proposals are discussed.
The scene also completely answers all the questions that I reckon, appear to be posed at the beginning of the play.
The play was witty, cleverly written by Oscar Wilde that still very much has as much relevance today as it did back then. It was worth the hundreds of miles I travelled to see this play. It was well directed and very well performed by all of the cast.
My only quibble is that the production was not going to tour to all quarters of the UK. A real pity, in my opinion because it is certainly good enough and has a great cast and production team. I believe they did film a performance, but for me, live screenings of plays are never the same of actually being in a theatre seeing the cast properly in person. It always provides a reason not to try to tour, of which I am sure one day will have some unintended consequence. That aside, the play is definitely worth seeing and for me, it was worth the hundreds of miles travel and was worthy of my “bucket list” and I was impressed by the quality of the Classic Spring Theatre Company.
The final date of this run is Saturday 20th October. As much as this is a popular play, there are, at time of publishing, a few tickets left.
I am sure The Importance of Being Earnest will still be shown many, many times, so if you don’t manage to catch the play this time, it is worth looking out for in the future. I highly recommend this production of the play, the play itself and this theatre company.
The Classic Spring Theatre Company are also collecting at the end of each performance for a charity which helps prevent young people committing suicide.