As one might expect, staging a play with only 12 hours of rehearsal time is no mean feat. However, I have to say Theatre Group managed it with such incredible style, they may have even beaten Oscar Wilde at his own game. The Importance of Being Earnest was a fantastic choice – being a confusing, crazed, comical farce of a play in the first place, it lent itself brilliantly to improvisation and the odd element of modernization. Algernon informing Lady Bracknell that he ‘couldn’t give a tupenny f***’ what she thought was a particular highlight, along with Lady Bracknell telling Algernon to ‘stop trying to make fetch happen – it’s not going to happen’; borrowed from we all know where.
An absolutely fantastic night, and as it was a one off, if you weren’t there, I can say with confidence that you missed out!
The cover-ups for forgotten lines also indicated strokes of genius, with Algernon, played excellently by Alex Leece, asserting, after a long pause, that he was sure he ‘was about to say something terribly witty’. Another dose of comedic value came from a rather unexpected source – the food eaten on stage, including the moment when Jack, played by Jimi Dallimore-Symonds, had to storm off stage exclaiming that the bread was the ‘driest damn bread he had ever eaten!’, an on stage debate as to what was a muffin and what was a tea cake, and an awful lot of unscripted pauses to allow for some hasty chewing. The elderly characters were acted brilliantly: an enthusiastic, exuberant Miss Prism was portrayed by Georgia Greenfield, and Cordi Morrison’s Lady Bracknell was wonderfully cutting, however Fin Boyter gave a standout performance as Dr Chausable, whose wavering tones had the whole audience laughing, slipping occasionally in to what sounded a little like a David Bowie impression –only serving to make it more hilarious.
Things were summed up pretty well in the end when it emerged that the notorious ‘handbag’ in which Ernest was found in Victoria Station was a home bargains plastic carrier bag, with Miss Prism’s initials scrawled on the front in marker pen. 5 stars have got to be awarded for the sheer guts it took to undertake such a challenge, and the fact that it was pulled off with such hilarity leaves me to do nothing but commend Theatre Group. An absolutely fantastic night, and as it was a one off, if you weren’t there, I can say with confidence that you missed out!
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