WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE?: Vaudeville Theatre
WHEN?: 20/7, press night 2/8, runs to 20/10/18
Oscar Wilde saved his best play until last and so Classic Spring Company’s acclaimed year-long Wilde season ends on the highest of highs.
- Read on for reasons including how the script is the star of this fine season finale
Its predecessors (A Woman Of No Importance, Lady Windermere’s Fan and An Ideal Husband) were starry affairs and this production’s lack of A-Listers is no indication of its quality
However, Sophie Thompson (pictured) is an Olivier Award winner and was as good here as Lady Bracknell as she was when we last saw her at the Savoy in Guys And Dolls.
The real star of course is the script which is brimful of one-liners that are as funny now as when they debuted in 1895.
The Importance Of Being Earnest is the story of orphan Jack Worthing (a hard-working Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) who is a respectable guardian to his ward Cecily (Fiona Button, shining with a mischievous twinkle in her eye) in the country but adopts the name Ernest in London when he assumes the persona of his wicked younger brother.
Jack’s attempts to woo Gwendolen Fairfax (Pippa Nixon, very funny) are thrown into disarray when his best friend Algernon (Fehinti Balogun, very much enjoying himself) follows him to the country and impersonates Ernest.
The supporting cast is rounded out exquisitely with the marvellous Stella Gonet as the ridiculous tutor Miss Prism and Downton Abbey‘s Jeremy Swift letting his words betray his feelings as the lovestruck Revered Chasuble.
Wilde’s preoccupation is the necessity to lead a double life which says much about the position he found himself him as a married man who left his wife and children for a man whose love would be his downfall.
Classic Spring Company’s Wilde Season has been an absolute joy, brought some undervalued work to wider attention and goes out with an explosion of laughs to end an absolutely glittering season. Who knew being earnest could be quite so deliciously funny?