Tuesday, 29 July 2014

'The Importance of Being Earnest' Harold Pinter Theatre ****

The West End play has definitely overtaken the musical this year, and a revival of Oscar Wilde’s highest and most regarded comedy, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest was an enjoyable experience and a gracious production indeed. The play, originally written and performed in 1875 conveys a man's desire to create a fictitious persona, as to improve his social status. In addition to this, Wilde’s writing advocates the extreme importance of the elite statuses, just as the prominence of marriage. This rendition of the playwright’s classic has been adapted by Simon Brett, where an amateur theatre company called, ‘The Bunbury Company of Players’ are hectically rehearsing the play. Brett’s adaptation combines both originality and the original writer’s traditional values to a pristine finish, and one found it encapsulated the perception of high society to incredible stylisation. One found the performance, especially the narrative engrossed one’s intrigue, and how Brett was capable of combining Wilde’s hysterical comedy and integrating his inventive concept of rehearsing the play itself. As well as, it was pleasing to see a somewhat brotherly relationship between Algernon Moncrieff, and the central protagonist, John Worthing, “Earnest” developing during the proceedings. Unbeknown to the both of them, they are closely related. Unfortunately, the performance needed to expand Wilde’s witty lines, as in fact an amount of the humour was decreased from the audience’s engagement, which is a slight embarrassment for such a prestigious British comedy. On a more positive note the revival did offer some agreeable moments, such as the awkward meeting in the Manor House in Wooton, where Gwendolyn Fairfax and Cecily Cardew presume that they are engaged to Earnest. On the contrary, the mischievous Algernon is posing as Earnest to cause friction between John’s situations. One found the performances by the company of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ were incredibly well delivered and enjoyable to witness. Nigel Havers is brilliant as the socialite, Algernon Moncrieff. I thought that he conveyed the realism and pretension of the individual with incredible flair. Martin Jarvis is extraordinary as John Worthing “Earnest”. He was vigilant in creating an alter-ego personality as to improve his prospect which was a pleasant one to have seen. Cherie Lunghi is wonderful as John's love interest, Gwendolyn Fairfax. I found she depicted the harsh and conceited nature that the character has with anyone that could corrupt her engagement to John. The direction by Lucy Bailey was divine, as she's worked with such a classic play and reinterpreting it to work within a rehearsal process format. William Dudley’s design was admirable as it enabled us to focus on both on and off the rehearsal process and to see how amateur companies sometimes work to rehearse their productions. The experience of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was an enjoyable one, despite some of my negative comments.

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