VISUALLY AMAZING: In character are (from left) Michelle Best as Lady Bracknell, Jessica Smedley as Gwendolen Fairfax and Marcus Hensley as Jack Worthing.THE Devonport Repertory Theatre Society’s latest offering, The Importance of Being Earnest, can be summed up perfectly using a line from the classic comedy.
“In matters of utmost importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”
Under the skilled and accomplished guidance of director Lindy Hingston, a stylish and classy production has been brought to the stage of the Ulverstone Civic Centre.
In a time when theatre-goers often expect to be “wowed” by visual effects and quirky script interpretations, there are no surprises here.
Earnest is renowned for its witty dialogue and clever repartee and this is exactly what Lindy and her cast delivered.
No slapstick, no clever trickery, just pure fun and a great night’s entertainment.
The Importance of Being Earnest is not an easy script to bring to the stage, but the cast’s impeccable comic timing and excellent use of understatement bring all the famous lines to life.
The more restrained Jack, well- played by Marcus Hensley, is a perfect foil to Brayden Lewtas’ character, the rather eccentric but charming Algy.
Brayden is at ease with the nonchalant Algernon and the audience quickly warms to his sharp wit and hilarious banter.
The female love interests are also well cast. Jesse Smedley makes a strong impression as the fashionable and utterly pretentious Gwendolen, using both her voice and haughty profile to great effect.
The young, unsophisticated Cecily is wonderfully portrayed by Sophie McCrae who brings a real sense of the “hopeless romantic” to the role.
Lady Bracknell, whose imposing entrances are always eagerly awaited by the audience, is probably one of Wilde’s most memorable characters and is superbly played by Michelle Best. Michelle, domineering, pompous and almost masculine in her presence, captures the character of Lady Bracknell to a tee. With some of the most unforgettable lines in the play, Michelle’s Lady Bracknell governs the stage every time she appears. In turn, she snares the audience.
Old hands at treading the boards, Sue Cochrane and Bruce Tivendale, deliver their characters, Miss Prism and Reverand Chasuble with their usual ease and confidence.
Graeme Brookes plays the dual part of the butlers, Lane and Merriman, and his dry delivery and deadpan expression amuse the audience greatly.
Wendy McCrae must be congratulated on her magnificent costumes. The attention to style, colour and detail is impressive and really adds to the persona of each character.
Who will forget Lady Bracknell swooping into the room in that magnificent red cape and hat? No one!
Accolades also must go to the set designers. Simple, yet sumptuous sets and furnishings gave the necessary sense of wealth without being too cramped and fussy.
The small, intimate stage of the Ulverstone Civic Centre is the perfect place to perform this play and the actors appear to be very comfortable working in this space.
The Importance of Being Earnest ticks all the boxes. Timing and subtlety are paramount to the success of this show, and in the main, the cast have these “in the bag”.
This show deserves to be seen. Plagiarising lines from a very famous Lady:”To lose one opportunity to see this play may be regarded as misfortune, to lose more looks like carelessness”.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.