THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
presented by Class Act & Bare Naked Theatre Companies
WRITTEN BY OSCAR WILDE
DIRECTED BY STEPHEN LEE
Rhoda Lopez, and
EARNEST was presented in 2009 at The Subiaco Arts Centre, Western Australia (August 25 to 28) also at the Bunbury Entertainment Centre, Bridgetown, Hopetoun, Dwellingup, Dunsborough, Busselton and Esperance
Two men, neither named Earnest, court young ladies determined to marry only a man of that name!
Wilde’s brilliantly funny and incisive comedy, sparkling with witty and memorable dialogue, presents a lunatic world where values are turned upside down and the trivial is elevated to supreme importance.
Who did eat the last cucumber sandwich? Whose dead brother turns up for lunch? And who was that baby left in a railway station locker in a handbag?
Towering over the chaos, is the terrifying figure of the redoubtable Lady Bracknell: “she’s a monster, without being a myth…which is rather unfair…”
Following the statewide success of their ‘hilarious’ interpretation of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Bare Naked and Class Act Theatre companies present one of the world’s favourite comedies.
“First produced 115 years ago, Oscar Wilde’s sharp, forensic comedy of manners still delights for its playful satire of social hypocrisy and the confected contortions that people perform to win favour or to avoid their obligations.
This co-production directed by Stephen Lee, who also performs two minor roles, does a reasonable job of blowing off whatever dust may tend to gather on such a polished theatrical artefact.
Lee and his actors rightly allow that giddy Wildean wit to roll out over the audience as one bon mot after another piles up in a sly accumulation of evidence in support of the author’s self-consciously performative life as a dandy and aesthete.
In keeping with this, Ben Russell is terrific as the fashionable pleasure-seeking Algernon Moncrieff, who drops his one-liners with tongue firmly in cheek amid his masquerade as Earnest, the mysterious brother of Jack Worthing (Dan Luxton).
Jack, too, has adopted his own false identity to escape the obligations of his country estate and enjoy the pleasures of London. Much of the comedy comes as their fictions unravel for both of them, imperilling their romance with two young women under the imperious nose of Lady Bracknell.
The Importance of Being Earnest has been performed in repertory with Hamlet during its current tour of the South-West and it is illustrative to see the actors tackle such different plays in tandem.
Russell, in particular, has been great to watch, though Craig Williams adroitly steps out of Hamlet’s boots to convey Lady Bracknell’s snootiness without descending into panto-dame territory. Witney Richards is a bright and chirpy Cecily, the object of Algernon’s affections.
This is a play which suits Lee’s nod-and-a-wink directing style. As Luxton’s Jack delivers the title line in closing as the cast pose in freeze-frame, the audience was clearly happy to join in on the joke.”
– Stephen Bevis, The West Australian
“ If I had a dollar for every person who has commented ‘Oh not Earnest again!’ I would be a rich man. So, to be truthful I was semi reluctant to go and see this play yet again. I dragged myself along and thank goodness, I did, as this was easily the best of the dozens that I have seen”
“…the script was delivered with perfect pace and timing”
“…this band of jesters had the audience laughing aloud for the whole two and a half hours.”
“ Craig was superb as Bracknell; in the style of Alastair Sim, he was hilarious as the threatening and gruesome Aunt. It was so surprising to see such talented Shakespearean actors, as Dan Luxton and Angelique Malcolm, being so truly gifted in comedy.”
“ Rhoda Lopez, renowned for her beautiful singing voice, was most at home with her aristocratic accent and hilarious part. Whitney who was superb as Hamlet’s Ophelia, here went through a 180 degrees to give another brilliant performance as the naïve and stubborn Cecily.”
“ One of the funniest classic shows I have seen in years, with a magnificent cast, that worked fabulously as a team. See it twice! Worthy of an Oscar.”
– Gordon Johnston, Theatre Australia