"THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST"
by The Burton Joyce Players
I'd forgotten how short this Oscar Wilde classic is, just a smidgeon over two hours long with two fifteen minutes breaks, but boy does the time fly in this wonderful comedy about etiquette,deception and trivialising institutions such as marriage.
Wilde wrote some wonderful lines in this play; classics like “If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.” and "To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. " and so many other classics. It's lines like these which show what a classic writer of comedy Wilde was and that is why this play is wonderfully funny.
One thing that sets this production aside from others I've seen in the past is that it is a totally cross gendered version of the play, and while at the start could be misconstrued as being a little on the "Little Britain" side of comedy, you actually forget that there are men dressed as women and vice versa and you just accept the wonderful characters as being who they are supposed to be. A clever turn of events on the part of the director Patrick McDonough.
A talented group of actors deliver an almost faultless performance. Mia Tink (Algernon), Sally Panter (Jack) are the friends who set out to deceive the objects of their affections Gwendoline (Chris Mercer) and Cecily (Adam Miller), both wonderful roles which, although the opportunity to take the ladies over the top was there, there was no need because the comedy was already there in the characters themselves. Jack also has invented a "friend" named Bunbury who lives in the country, whom he can "visit" whenever he wishes to avoid an unwelcome social obligation
Lady Bracknell, the Maggie Smith of the Victoriana, was an absolute dream to watch in the hands, heels and frock of Gavin Alston. Always aloof with a cutting remark. The scene where Lady Bracknell quizzes Jack on his intentions towards Gwendolen is just perfect, as are all the scenes with the Lady in.
The rest of the cast were David Page (Lane), Alistair Dobb (Miss Prism), Deborah Craddock (Dr Chasuble) and Linda Burgin (Merriman).
Classy set design and wonderful wardrobe by Jenny Harwood made the play very easy to watch and to transport yourself back to the decadence of Victorian Britain. Nice clear sound by Ben Woolley and with lighting by Ryan Holmes, this is one play that has all the elements for a really enjoyable evening out.
"The Importance Of Being Earnest" is on at Burton Joyce Village Hall until Saturday 2 May 2015