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Wilde at its best

PUBLISHED: 12:54 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 August 2010

TOP CAST: The stars of The Importance of Being Earnest.

TOP CAST: The stars of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Having been to many local theatres, it was a real and unexpected joy to discover Theatre 62 at the Wickham Theatre Centre and their production of Oscar Wilde s The Importance of Being Earnest

Having been to many local theatres, it was a real and unexpected joy to discover Theatre 62 at the Wickham Theatre Centre and their production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, writes Richard Banks.

The staging was set in the round, which lead to some awkward blocking of the audience's view of the action but the staging was simple, yet effective.

The plot evolves around John Worthing (Ian-Paul Munday) and his courtship of Gwendolen Fairfax and Worthing's friend Algernon Moncrieff (Geoff Dillon) and his romance of Cecily Cardew, who happens to be Worthing's ward.

The play is famous for having some of Wilde's most memorable characters and none more so than the grotesque Lady Bracknell, made famous by Dame Edith Evans, yet brilliantly played by Carolyn Taylor.

When the time came for line 'A Handbag?' there was an audible sigh of relief when Taylor didn't copy the most famous speech pattern and made the character her own, which she did with great characterisation and strong delivery.

Jenny Jones smouldered repressed sexuality and vicious cattiness as Gwendolen. Her sparring partner in an excellent catty exchange was Amy Comper displayed Cecily's naivety and ludicrous romanticism with equal skill.

Completing a strong female cast was the excellent Pat Adams as the prim, bookish Miss Prism.

Much of the humour relies on dramatic irony, confusion and fabulous snobbery the like of which has been mimicked many times since, in characters such as Hyacinth Bucket, but not yet bettered.

This was an excellent production, which richly deserved the warm appreciation from the audience.

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