|Steph Roberts (Algernon Moncrief) - Noel Horwood (Jack Worthing)
Directed by Jarrad West – Assistant directors: Steph Roberts & Joel Horwood.
Design: Fiona Lean – Property Design: Marya Glyn-Daniel
Design: Nathan Sciberras – Sound Design: Nathan Patrech.
ACTHub – 8th
– 17th December. 2002.
on 9th December reviewed by Bill Stephens.
|Blue Hislop (Merrilane) - Lainie Hart (Miss Prism) - Louiza Blomfield (The Downlows)
This is one production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” that you cannot afford to miss. Even when it was first performed in 1875, Wilde’s play was described as “A trivial comedy for serious people”. Since then it has become a staple for professional and community theatre companies around the world. However it’s doubtful if it has ever been given a production quite like this one.
Jarrad West has come up idea of stripping the play of its period connotations
and presenting it in a cabaret setting. He’s retained Wilde’s original
dialogue, except for anything superfluous to his concept, carefully retaining
all the lines you want to hear, and ignoring the gender of his actors when
Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrief are played by Joel Horwood and Steph
Roberts; Gwendoline Fairfax and Cecily Cardew are played by Shae Kelly and
Holly Ross. Lady Bracknell is portrayed by Lainie Hart, Victoria Dixon plays
Miss Prism, Janie Lawson plays Dr. Chasuble, and the two butlers, Merriman and
Lane, are condensed into one character now called Merrilane and played by Blue
Hyslop as a sort of combination of Lurch from “The Adams Family” and “Frank N
Furter” from “The Rocky Horror Show”. West also added a cabaret duo,“The
Downlows” (Louise Blomfield and Dave Collins), to the cast who comment on the
action with stylish and hilarious versions of popular songs.
It shouldn’t work, but it does...a treat…and the result is an evening of sheer theatrical bliss.
|Louiza Blomfield - Dave Collins (The Downlows)
thing you’ll notice when you walk into the ACT hub is that it’s been completely
transformed into a glamorous and cosy jazz club, The Bunbury. You’ll be ushered
to your table, or one of the velvet lounges, and offered the opportunity to
purchase a specially created gin cocktail called Bunbury Tea. You’ll
discover when the play commences that the action happens all around you, but
thankfully there is no audience participation required other than to enjoy the
brilliant performances of the cast, and as this is a first-class cast of clowns,
you most certainly will.
has been encouraged to develop an individual idiosyncratic characterisation,
for which Fiona Leach has designed a marvellous costume. Each costume is itself
a work of wearable art that completely ignores period or fashion but accurately
captures the essence of Wilde’s intention.
While Wilde’s dialogue is unchanged the clever
delivery by each of the cast, together with some wonderful physical
interpolations, focusses attention on the brilliance of his writing which
remains as funny and pertinent today as when it was written.
Roberts and Joel Horwood, as Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrief, are a lesson
in brilliant comedy acting, phrasing their lines with purpose and clarity and
supporting them with well-considered, hilarious physical business.
|Lainie Hart (Miss Prism) - Joel Horwood (Jack Worthing)
is terrific as the imperious Lady Bracknell intent on vetting the credentials
of any prospective suitor for her daughter, Gwendoline, played with panache by
Shae Kelly. Holly Ross is wonderfully vacuous as the
not-so-delicate Cecily Cardew, intent on marrying Algernon Moncrief. Victoria
Dixon as Miss Prism almost brings the house down with her hysterics following
her revelations about the famous handbag. Janie Lawson adds to the fun with her
delightfully venal Dr. Chasuble, while Blue Hyslop, with very little to say,
lurks with intent, popping up from every corner of the room when least
|Steph Roberts (Algernon Moncrief) - Joel Horwood (Jack Worthing) - Holly Ross (Cecily Cardew)
icing on the cake, Louiza Blomfield and Dave Collins, as the two cabaret
performers who link the scenes, do so with such taste and skill as to set up
the expectation that perhaps ACThub patrons might be treated to more of their
talents in the promised cabaret performances announced in its 2023 program.
Whether you’re a theatre aficionado or just looking for something special to celebrate the festive season, you’d be mad to miss this brilliantly conceived and performed production which offers a perfect theatrical bon-bon to celebrate the festive season.
Images by Janelle McMenamin
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au