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The Importance of Being Earnest tells the story of two confirmed “Bunburyist”, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff each attempting to reconcile their romantic lives, with the lies they’ve been using to escape the mundane realities of their lives. After overcoming the satirised extremes of the Victorian social structure, both men finally become engaged, only to then be faced with their own lies and the insufficiency of their own names, and the absurdities of their families.
Oscar Wilde’s farcical comedy has one of the smartest and wittiest scripts, which even today can reduce entire audiences to tears of laughter. Often considered a satire on Victorian society, the story is built on the absurd coincidences, droll sarcasm, and ironies inherent in the lives of the upper classes of the time. A huge part of its strength is the timeless nature of the comedy; aside from the somewhat flowery language of the Victorian playwright, the narrative wouldn’t be out of place in a modern comedy. This is what makes it so enjoyable to watch, even today.
This was a confident, slick, and eye-wateringly hilarious production of the show. Audience members were welcomed with homemade handbags as programmes; a nice touch that added to the warmth of the show. The high number of non-students on the night in the audience I attended was a testament to both the reputation of the play, and of course LUTG. With a relatively minimal set, lighting and props we were taken back to an upper-class Victorian household.
A crucial, yet potentially over-looked element of the show was the music. Not only did it add to the atmosphere of the show, but also underlined many of the comedic moments of the evening. In particular, the clichéd romantic music that played as two characters intertwined was really enjoyable. Special mention must go to the costume department for adding to both, the realism, and the hilarity of the evening. Lady Bracknell’s costume, complete with make-up and plumage was notably brilliant.
With such a witty, yet wordy script the performance of the play depends on the overall talent of the cast performing it. However, in typical LUTG fashion, to say they lived up to Oscar Wilde’s classic would be an understatement. They demonstrated wonderful comedic timing, hitting their cues expertly, and inducing laugh after laugh. The interplay between the characters in this show is an integral part, the energy in the delivery of the lines, and in the reactions to the lines of the other characters was wonderful.
Throughout the entire performance, I don’t think I saw a single character still for a single moment, constantly responding to the events unfolding before them, adding to the humour and drama of the moment. I particularly enjoyed the moments of self-awareness and improvisation; openly confessing to moustaches falling off, or commenting on the convenience of the plot. The play was of course, not without its heartfelt moments; at the heart of this cynical play is a series of romantic stories, intertwined with an abandoned child once again finding his family.
Robbie Love’s performance as Lady Bracknell was particularly enjoyable, being able to draw laughs with just the over-dramatic pronunciation of the characters names. Jamie Steele, playing the deplorable Algernon and Loui Quelcutti playing the rather slow witted Mr Worthing had excellent chemistry as the 2 male leads; their battle over their muffins was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the show. Their chemistry was rivalled by that of Emily Millington (Gwendolen), and Jess Radomska (Cecily) who’s back and forth in the second act was hilarious. Rachel Jacquest (Miss Prism) and Greg Walker (Dr Chasuble) were a wonderful comedy duo, and Melissa Curd played the roles of Lane and Merriman wonderfully, bringing together a fantastic cast.
Overall this was a hugely the arrangement of the venue made it difficult to see the characters while they were sat down, which meant that some of the more visual moments were lost on parts of the audience. Had I been able to see more of the show, perhaps I’d have had more complaints.
Having seen many of LUTG’s performances this year, I want to congratulate them on a wonderful end to a fantastic year.