As readers of this blog will now be aware, it can be said that I am a big admirer of Oscar Wilde. I am that sad person who pops in quotes from his plays in general conversation such is the effect his works have on me.
The Importance of being Earnest was the first Oscar Wilde play I read at the age of 14 (just three television channels and no internet when I was a gal!) and remains my favourite. So, imagine my delight when we were able to purchase tickets for Dominic Dromgoole’s Classic Spring Company’s production of this Oscar Wilde masterpiece, the final play in the year long celebration of Wilde’s work.
The importance of being Earnest “a trivial comedy for serious people” was first performed in 1895 at St. James Theatre, London. The plot focuses on two “dandies” friends Algernon Moncrieffe and Jack Worthing who both create fictitious people to escape social obligations and the boredom and responsibilities of their everyday lives.
Madeleine Girling’s set, consisting of wooden panels and traditional furniture, transports the viewer into the upper-class Victorian era so associated with Oscar Wilde, however, there is a twist. In the opening scene a large painting hangs on the wall depicting two naked and intertwined young men wrestling on the floor. These touches by director Michael Fentiman, which includes changing the relationship of Algernon and his butler Lane from master and servant to lovers and indicating to the audience that Algernon and Jack are bisexual, create a raunchy energetic fast paced piece of theatre. These touches for me do not distract from the original story.
In Act Two, I really enjoyed the chemistry between Fiona Button as Cecily Cardew and Pippa Nixon as Gwendoline Fairfax, where in the space of minutes, with excellent comedic timing, the two women go from being best friends to enemies when they think they are engaged to the same man, Earnest Worthing.
Fehinti Balogun (making his West End debut) as Algernon Moncrieffe and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Jack Worthing also had excellent chemistry with each other throughout the production. Their comedic timing was exceptional.
Sophie Thompson gives a strong performance as Lady Bracknell delivering the well-known lines with perfect timing, causing the audience many laugh out loud moments.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable production of what is considered Wilde’s masterpiece, which was very well received by the West End audience.
The Importance of being Ernest runs at the Vaudeville Theatre until 20th October 2018.
We say: “A thoroughly enjoyable production of what is considered Wilde’s masterpiece with laugh out loud moments that captured the West End audience!”