The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest

Taking one liberty with one of Oscar Wilde’s best known plays might be seen as being brave, but taking a series of them could be seen as being careless.

Using the story of identity, love and intrigue as a blueprint, the evening starts as it usually does.

Algernon (Guido Garcia Lueches) and his butler Lane (Rhys Tees) set the scene. When Earnest fails to show up for his cued entrance, panic sets in. Soon the producer Simon Slough (Josh Haberfield) is called in, and casts the central role from the audience. Luckily, chemistry teacher James is willing to fill in.

With no script he is encouraged to make it up as he goes along. Soon he meets Lady Bracknell (Judith Amsenga) who has to mime the famous A Handbag line to him. As he is approached by Gwendolen (Trynity Silk) their budding romance slips into tales of evenings in Nando’s and dancing to Taylor Swift songs.

Throughout the play other actors fall ill, have ill-advised bicycle accidents or find that sharing roles is too much. In time there are replacements from the audience for Cecily, Miss Prism and Reverend Chausable.

The fourth wall is broken so many times that it needn’t have been built as Simon and long suffering stage manager Josh (Ben Mann) try to save the evening. Blending in willing participants from the audience without knowing anything about them could always lead to a disaster, but the carefully handled evening never wavered.

As we approach the ending of the play the actual Ernest turns up. He is George, the professional actor with a Hollyoaks credit to his name and a matching ego.

The play will be different every night depending on the nature and willingness of the audience members who are invited on stage. It takes a lot of thought and fast thinking from the cast, but on nights like the one I saw, it is a reminder that a well written play – and people entering into the spirit of the piece – can provide unexpected humour and entertainment.

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18 days ago

I was at this performance, loved it. The old fella who went on second made the night for me. He was sat in the seat behind me, so glad I ducked the beach ball when it came into the audience to select someone.