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The Importance of Being Earnest – CTW, Old Court Theatre

Known as probably Oscar Wildes finest work, the popularity of this play rarely seems to have dwindled. It has been re-imagined in many ways but this CTW production took us back to the original.

The Importance of Being Earnest tells the story of two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives. They attempt to win the hearts of two ladies – Gwendolen and Cecily – who, conveniently, claim they could only love gentlemen called Ernest. The pair struggle to keep up with their own lies and we get to watch the car crash as the whole thing unravels before us.

Playing the self-absorbed, idle and selfish Algernon Moncrieff, was Dylan Price. Dylan was flamboyant and outlandish showing the more decadent side of Victorian bachelor life. Whilst his performance was unstructured and sometimes felt a little lost, he certainly did a good job showing us the shallowness of Algy’s character perfectly.

Taking on the role of John Worthing was Andy Poole. Andy has such a strong stage presence and he gave one of the best performances I have seen in a long while, delivering some great comedy moments and was easily the glue which held the entire piece together. He was a pleasure to watch and I really hope to see him in another role very soon.

Laura Hill gave us a formidable Gwendolen who has certain requirements for her proposal and her fiancé’s name and Meg Rennie as Cecily Cardew, Jacks young ward was charming and exuberant.

Lynne Foster as Lady Bracknell although she had the presence of a great dame, seemed to struggle a little with the dialogue and her first scene was somewhat diminished by her hat, as anyone sitting in the audience to the extreme left of the auditorium would have struggled to see face due to its positioning on her head. Sight-lines are always extremely important especially when the audience sit straight on to the stage as they do at the Old Court Theatre.

Rachel Curren as Miss Prism and Mark Sutton as the Reverend Canon Chasuble both gave strong and engaging performances which were consistent throughout. I also thought the two butlers Terry Cramphorn and Simon Hirst gave subtle but confident portrayals showing how important every single role in a production is.

As we have come to expect at CTW, the set was stunning with simple changes to the three locations and the costumes were perfectly suited to the characters. This was a hugely enjoyable production and I commend the cast and production team on yet another winning play.

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