WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2
WHERE: Vaudeville Theatre
WHEN: 6/10, press night 16/10, runs until 30/12
It was the casting of Eve Best which we were most excited by going into this show but it was the scene-stealing between act songs performed by Anne Reid (pictured above) which we came away from it talking about.
- Read on for reasons including which director was in the bar at the interval
We were at the first preview for this first of four Oscar Wilde plays put on by the new Classic Spring theatre company at this West End venue.
The word ‘importance’ is not the only thing this play has in common with Wilde’s most-loved work (The Importance Of Being Earnest). Ideas of town and country; earnestness and even one of Wilde’s most famous theatrical flourishes (‘All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’) feature in both.
A Woman Of No Importance premiered in 1893 at London’s Haymarket Theatre a good two years before Earnest and tells the story of bachelor Lord Illingworth who discovers at a party thrown by Lady Hunstanton (Reid, an absolute knock-out with lots of great comic lines) the true identity of the man called Gerald Arbuthnot that he has just appointed to be his secretary (Harry Lister Smith, a name to watch out for after a brief appearance in recent film God’s Own Country).
Eve Best is always reliable and here tugs at the heartstrings as Gerald’s mother and a woman from Lord Illingworth’s past.
Illingworth speaks predominantly in epigrams in a way that Wilde was later to perfect in Earnest. As mentioned above, members of the cast accompany Reid during some very funny but darkly comic songs between each of the four acts that are the highlights of this fine production.
We would’ve loved to have seen more from Eleanor Bron who is a house guest at the party but that is only a very minor gripe.
We had reservations about director Dominic Dromgoole’s decision to do a Wilde season with his newly formed theatre company Classic Spring but it’s off to a terrific start.
We spotted him in the bar at the interval and in the auditorium after the show and had to restrain ourselves from shaking his hand in congratulation.
- Picture via Facebook courtesy Classic Spring. Tickets
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