Sunday, February 22, 2015

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST



Written by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Judi Crane
Canberra Rep, Theatre 3
February 20 - 7 March, 2015

Review by Len Power

Oscar Wilde’s, ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest’, is the most well-known of his string of comedies written in the 1890s.  Judi Crane’s entertaining new production for Canberra Rep captures the spirit of the play very well.

To be successful, the play needs skilled performers who can play the intent of a line which often differs from what is actually being said.  For the most part, the performers in this production get it right.  Miles Thompson is outstanding as the young Algernon Moncrieff.  His stylish playing never falters and his delivery of some of Wilde’s best lines is excellent.  Karen Vickery gives a strong performance as Lady Bracknell.  She is formidable, as expected, but the actress adds an unexpected playfulness to her character which works extremely well.  Kayleigh Brewster gives a finely mannered performance as Gwendolyn and Jordan Best is almost unrecognizable in her delightfully funny performance as Miss Prism.  The other players give nicely judged performances, although Michael Miller as the butler, Merriman, overplays to the point of caricature.
From Left: Kayleigh Brewster (Gwendolyn), Miles Thompson (Algernon), Jessica Symonds (Cecily) and Karen Vickery (Lady Bracknell) - photo by Helen Musa
The play requires three settings.  Set designer, Michael Sparks, has opted for simplicity with essentially the same set re-dressed for each scene.  His design for the garden scene was the least successful, looking like another interior room.  Costumes by Heather Spong were nicely in period.  The women’s hats were well- designed by Helen Drum but those worn by Karen Vickery had a tendency to shade the actress’s eyes.

Overall, Judi Crane has delivered a fine production of this now classic play.

Originally published in Canberra City News digital edition 21 February 2015 and broadcast on Bill Stephens’ ‘Dress Circle’ program on Artsound FM from 5pm Sunday22 February 2015.

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