Review by Janine Pulford
This brilliantly written farcical play treated the audience to some of Oscar Wilde’s wittiest lines. The actors delivered with clear diction and the costumes were excellent, but somehow the overall performance lacked lustre.
The redeeming character was Merryman the butler, who stole the show. His funny walk, wobbly hands, facial and vocal expressions had the audience in stitches. I could easily have watched him all night.
The story is complicated and involves two friends, Jack and Algernon, who both pretend to be the fictitious brother of Jack, called Ernest. In the guise of their alter egos, they both propose to young ladies. The ensuing confusion is cleverly resolved and all hinges on a handbag.
Though frivolous and fluffy, the play is a satire of the hypocrisies of Victorian society and the damaging effect they could have. Indeed, shortly after the first performance in 1895, Wilde initiated a libel trial and ended up in prison for being a homosexual.
‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ became one of his most well-known plays.
Wessex Actors Company made the unusual decision to take part of the performance off stage and actors came into the audience on several occasions. I liked the idea and it added a new dimension.