In this week's theatre review, guest blogger Emer Dooris (from Emer D blog - www.emerdblog.com) takes us back in time to Victorian London and deepest Hertfordshire in this brilliant adaptation of one of Oscar Wilde's most popular plays, 'The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People' (to give it its full name!)... Emer and I both enjoyed this show early this week at Belfast's Grand Opera House, one of my favourite theatres in the world, because it was the first one I ever visited - I can still remember the awe I felt at the rows and rows of seats to the sky. And like the theatre, this play is one of my favourites too, because I am a huge wordsmith and a massive fan of Wilde's clever puns and salacious satire, he has always featured on my ultimate dinner party guest list. Imagine the banter!
But now, over to Emer:
The Original Theatre Company's production of The Importance of Being Earnest is witty, charming and hilarious. As one of my favourite Oscar Wilde productions, I waited with bated breath to see what direction this production would take, and I was not disappointed.
My last viewing of this play was with an all male cast which added to the hilarious absurdity of the piece, but this time I was transported back to the original Victorian era and no gender swaps (neither direction being a bad thing, but I’m always interested to see how far the director is willing to change/challenge the characters and the actors.) From curtain up, the audience was transported to a luscious, decadent set complete with wood panelling, chandeliers and hanging baskets. Add in a fantastic cast and the most amazingly outrageous costumes - which seemed to add caricature to the characters, (I was especially enamoured with the bustle on the back of Lady Bracknell’s dress which made this larger than life character a much more formidable force to be reckoned with) and you have a visual feast before the actors even mutter a word.
The genius of Wilde’s script with its perfect one liners and punch lines kept the audience giggling throughout the three act production. I'm not sure if it was opening night production/acoustic problems, or a voice projection issue, but the actors seemed at first a little meek and quiet on stage (audience members nearby remarked they were hard to hear), however, they soon relaxed into their roles by the first half of Act I and the pace and delivery of the lines came up to speed. Special mention should go out to the humorous facial reactions by Susan Penhaligon who played the down beaten, accident prone but love struck Miss Prism. Lady Bracknell, played with aplomb by ational treasure Gwen Taylor, was also fab. Jack Worthing was a voice doppleganger for Colin Firth and Algernon Moncrieff looked just as I would imagine him. I totally loved his dapper and dandy wardrobe.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable production with a well-versed and talented cast, I would highly recommend checking this one before the end of its very short run this Saturday 24th February.
Limited tickets available at www.goh.co.uk