“The Importance Of Being Earnest” by People’s Theatre Company.
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
This is one of the wittiest plays ever to be writ and performed. A Trivial Comedy For Serious People isn’t quite as catchy a title even though this was what this play was also known as. Oscar Wilde’s classic story of deceit, triviality, society etiquette and marriage…. oh and bunburying! And one of my favourite pieces of classic theatre.
Jack wishes to marry Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen, but first he must convince her mother, the fearsome Lady Bracknell, of the respectability of his parents and his past. For Jack, however, this is not as easy as it sounds, having started life abandoned in a handbag at Victoria station. “A handbag?”… yes, you heard right, a handbag!
There are so many classic and witty lines and one liners in this play, that you need to listen carefully to get them all.
The cast includes several well-known faces to the Nottingham local theatre stages as well as some new faces to the People’s Theatre Company.
John Worthing, played by Robert Goll. What can I say? I have never seen anything that Rob has done that I've not enjoyed and has suited his acting style. This is another well cast role. What more can I say, he makes every role so natural and he has a natural rhythm and comic talent.
Algernon played by Steve Mitchell. Quite wonderful as the foppish cad with a hunger for cucumber sandwiches and muffins. Another actor who makes his role seem the most natural character ever. To start with I had to really listen to his lines but I think that part of this was the sofa was set back on the stage. later in the play, there was no issue for me hearing those wonderful Wilde witticisms.
Lady Bracknell played by Gill Cook. When Gill first told me that she had got this role, I knew that she would be brilliant as the formidable Lady Bracknell, and I was right, she was brilliant. Her delivery of the line "a handbag" was better than David Suchet's. It was delivered with true disbelief and scorn. Marvellous.
Cecily Cardew played by Courtney Kelham-Giddy. She injected just the right amount of "posh" into the role, and with brilliant confidence. too many comic scenes within this play for me to pick a favourite of Cecily's.
Gwendolen Fairfax played by Lauren Hegarty. I've a feeling that Lauren may be a new face to me - I'm sorry if that's not the case- but I know that I'll be looking out for future theatrical pieces from Lauren. Once more a wonderful character role.
The Rev Canon Chasuble played by Rob Suttle This is an ideal role for Rob because he had the sort of face who looks serious but the twinkle in his eye belies his dry sense of humour, and playing a man of the cloth is spot on for Rob.
Miss Prism played by Barbara Benner. Although not the biggest role in Wilde's play, it is a pivitol role. Her whole physicality changed when she saw Lady Bracknell, and I won't say why, just in case you've not seen the play or know the script
Lane, Algernon's servant, who is normally played by a man and was initially cast in this production as a man, is played by Jayde Anne Crouch, another new name to me. The whole air of the servant role is wonderfully nonchalant and Jayde masters the character role perfectly. Wilde has written comedy for every one of his characters and Lane has some corkers.
Merriman, who is Ciceley's servant steals the scenes that he is in and John Gill's camp version of this role is an absolute scene-stealer. His part where Gwendolen and Ciceley are having tea and he is setting the table is classic. he even received a small ripple of applause as he left the stage. I saw John as Herod in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and again his performance in that is embedded in my memory, as this performance will be.
Directed by Beth Hinchliffe, this is one of the most humorous versions of the play I've seen. Maybe that is because every time I see it, I love it more and I spot the witty lines I may have missed before. Tonight I was chuckling more than ever , and even more in love with this wonderful play.
A brilliant cast, and I know that there have been a couple of cast changes along the way, but I feel that the cast choice was perfect.
Loved the costumes, thanks to John Gill and I loved the accents, cut glass. I know this play really well and even though I knew the lines were coming up, I still found the lines incredibly funny. A true test of a great wit, but it also takes a good actor to deliver the lines with timing to get the full wit across to an audience.
“The Importance Of Being Earnest” is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 31 March 2018.