The Importance of Being Earnest Review

Unlike many plays of the nineteenth century The Importance of Being Earnest is a piece in which the women’s roles are considerably more significant than the men’s. Lady Bracknell is the character that is most remembered, not least because of her most famous line, “A handbag!”. Her daughter, Gwendolen, and Cecily the young heiress, show themselves to be considerably more astute than their young gentlemen admirers, and even Miss Prism, the forgetful governess, has a second career in mind as a romantic novelist. Wilde’s women are anything but a pushover, and the men are only accepted on the terms dictated to them, even if those terms are somewhat capricious.

This is a comedy which has not dated, with verbal humour that still delights the audience, and the cast of the College production certainly succeeded in delighting their audiences. Charley (UC5) as Lady Bracknell dominated the stage, and brought out the calculating nature of the character who is determined to see marriage as a pathway to material prosperity. Gwendolen, played by Daisy (UC5), was shown as having all of her mother’s force of personality, and a nasty cutting tongue, whilst Inge (UC5) proved a formidable competitor as Cecily, with a grace and whimsy that was captivating to watch. Natasha (UC5), as Miss Prism, was by turns moralising, love-struck and out of her depth, and it is hard to imagine how her performance could have been improved upon, she brought so much humour to the role.

In the male roles of Algy and Jack, Tatty and Caley (UC5) were an excellent foil for each other, Algy debonair and witty, Jack uptight and prone to furious outbursts. It is a credit to both performers that they created performances that were totally credible. Mary (UC5), as Canon Chasuble, was suitably vain and pompous with some lovely comic expressions, while Sofiya (UC4) and Hebe (UC4) maintained decorum as the two butlers.

This was a very enjoyable production to direct, and Catie (SFC2) and myself have been delighted with the actors’ enthusiasm and sheer hard work in rehearsal. The stage crew, led by the stage manager Liese (LC3) under the supervision of Mr Williams, have also made a vital contribution. We are also greatly indebted to Miss Courtney and Mrs Wrench for the wonderful costumes which made the production such a visual delight.

Mr M Smith, Director of Drama