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THEATRE REVIEW: The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde Season Live, South Holland Centre, Spalding

Sophie Thompson (Lady Bracknell) and Fehinti Balogun (Algernon Moncrieff) in a scene from The Importance of Being Earnest. Photo supplied. (4724537)
Sophie Thompson (Lady Bracknell) and Fehinti Balogun (Algernon Moncrieff) in a scene from The Importance of Being Earnest. Photo supplied. (4724537)

Before the start of the live screening of The Importance of Being Earnest, widely considered to be Oscar Wilde's greatest play, the audience is given a health warning.

"If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or late, to be found out."

On that foundation lies the entire play, essentially about two wealthy bachelors who set out to find wives for themselves, only to find out that they are actually brothers.

Sophie Thompson, whose credits include Eastenders, Coronation Street, Detectorists and Celebrity Masterchef 2014 winner, takes the crucial role of Lady Bracknell who becomes the axis of the play.

As with all of Wilde's plays, the focus is on class, societal ranks, sarcasm and the capacity of past events to catch up with you.

In this case, it is John Worthing (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) who finds himself on the receiving end of the truth after inventing a younger brother called Ernest as an excuse to leave his life and the country and enjoy London instead.

As the play unfolds John and fellow socialite Algernon Moncrieff (Fehinti Balogun) use invention to win the hands of brides-to-be Gwendolen Fairfax (Pippa Nixon) and Cecily Pardew (Fiona Button).

But the weddings can only happen with Lady Bracknell's consent which comes about only as John and Algernon are discovered to be, in fact, real brothers.

For its staging of the play, Classic Spring Theatre Company, led by artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, said: "Wilde’s much-loved masterpiece throws love, logic and language into the air to make one of theatre’s most dazzling firework displays.

"Jack, Algernon, Gwendolyn and Cecily discover how unsmooth runs the course of true love, while Lady Bracknell keeps a baleful eye on the mayhem of manners."

For comedy and light entertainment, The Importance of Being Earnest is most definitely Oscar Wilde's calling card.

Review by Winston Brown


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