‘A trivial comedy for serious people’ runs true to its name in this comedically spectacular revival of one of Oscar Wilde’s most highly regarded plays. The farcical comedy exposes Victorian London’s social conventions and the characters attempting to escape these customs.
The play centres around the satirical pursuit for marriage for both Algernon (James Curling) and in particular John Worthing (George Waring). Their pursuit of Cecily (Chrissy Courquin) and Gwendolen (Emma Summerton) respectively, alongside the dual identity both men possess, results in confusion and hilarious outcomes for all involved. What we mainly learn from their overtly inflated sense of importance, is that being called Earnest is essential for their monotonous happiness.
The story was perfectly portrayed by all cast members, and for that I must commend them. I truly felt that their larger-than-life onstage presence would make Wilde himself proud. From the start, the actors’ onstage chemistry was well matched. Algernon’s greedy nature and Jack’s self righteousness fantastically played off one another in their performances. It seemed, due to the ease in which the actors interacted, that this was not opening night, but the middle of a well oiled production from the West End. Izzie Masters’ spectacular version of Lady Bracknell offered the audience the greatest laughs of all. Her pretentious manner, overly protective and very illadvised relationship advice for her daughter, Gwendolen, stole the show. Although, I have to admit I am somewhat worried for the health of James Curling after the injury he incurred from her wrath.
“Izzie Masters’ spectacular version of Lady Bracknell offered the audience the greatest laughs of all”
The female members of this cast were outstanding in the way they responded to their potential fiancees’ deception. Emma Summerton achieved a vision of Gwendolen that far exceeded my expectation. Furthermore, Chrissy Courquin managed to display the outwardly immature and devious nature of Cecily. Their unreserved performances were well contrasted with both Darcey Graham and even more so, Joe Hincks’ portrayal of the cynical butlers who bitterly serve their (undeserving) superiors. However, Neil Ganatra needs to find his feet as Dr Chasuble so that his relationship with Miss Prism (Iona Hampson) and the other cast members be improved over the next shows.
The consistency in keeping the three acts of the play has to be noted. The change of scenery from the suitable Victorian appearance of the furniture in Algernon’s home, to the picturesque garden from the Manor House in Hertfordshire, means the set designers have to be commended for their minimalist, yet effective nod to the Victorian era. Also, the use of food as a prop has to be recognised, as well as James Curling’s ability to engulf an enormous amount of cucumber sandwiches and muffins. Everything was beautifully set for the amazing performance. Also, the costume choices made for each individual character were well fashioned and captured the Victorian setting.
“It is the best production I have witnessed from them to date, and there is practically nothing to fault in this satirical comedy”
Admittedly, as an A Level English Literature student I fell in love with this play, and I am so pleased to say that my expectation was not only met, but in fact exceeded by this talented cast. Never have I laughed as much at a play. If anyone needs a break from revision, I highly suggest seeing The Importance of Being Earnest at the New Theatre. It is the best production I have witnessed from them to date, and there is practically nothing to fault in this satirical comedy. Nathan Penny and Ross Brisk have a bright future ahead of them as both a director and producer, and it is surprising to learn from the programme, that this is their first production. ‘The truth is rarely pure and simple’ but the decision to rate this 10/10 was one of the easiest things to do.
‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is running at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 14th May. For more information and to book tickets, see here.