The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest
By Oscar Wilde. Nash Theatre (Qld). 16 Nov – 1 Dec 2012

It’s not surprising The Importance of Being Earnest is doing the theatre rounds again. This is Wilde at the peak of his talent as a wordsmith. After a raft of great ‘issue’ plays came Importance, essentially about nothing except middle-class manners at the turn of the nineteenth century. The Nash company are doing a slick job of this entertaining satirical farce.

Director Nigel Munro-Wallis cast his actors shrewdly and they threw themselves into their parts with gusto. The two ‘Ernest’ aliases, Eamonn Clohesy (Algernon) and Henry Young (Jack), along with their romantic counterparts, Jacqueline Kerr (Gwendolyn) and Samantha Colwell (Cecily), anchor the action with deft characterisations and great timing.

Brenda Keith-Walker avoids Edith Evans’ cliché by creating a worldly, quietly dominant and dignified Lady Bracknell. John Ashton almost steals the limelight with his distinctly different butlers, Lane and Merriman.

Brenda White is a slightly addled Miss Prism ─ for the first time I connected this resolution with W. S. Gilbert’s in The Pirates of Penzance. (Who thought of it first?). And Stephen O’Grady’s Doctor Chasuble achieves yet another effective Wildean satirical swipe, this time at the church.

Designer, Peter Cress, utilises the limited space very well. Only purists could carp that Act 2 should be in different locales: his arrangement provides a smooth transition of the action without the hiccup of a scene change. Well done to all!

Jay McKee

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