Gwendolyn Fairfax:- “I always take my diary with me when I go on trains. I need something sensational to read”.
OUTATOWNTHEATRE presents its first production at Chatswood. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is the three act version of Oscar Wilde’s 1895 masterful comedy of British Society and its manners, and is set in 1895 with excellent attention to detail on every costume. Oscar Wilde’s rapid fire entertainment is expertly directed by Allan Walpole.
“The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”, was first performed on Thursday 14th February 1895, at the St. James’s Theatre in London. The comedy plot concerns Mistaken Identity, Love Triangles, Etiquette, and a somewhat large black leather hand-bag (however this version has a carpet-baggers hand-bag).
John (Jack/Earnest) Worthing, the play’s protagonist, is a very responsible and respectable young gentleman of excellent means, but leads a double life as Earnest Worthing. Lady Augusta Bracknell is perfectly unbearable and is Algernon Moncrieff’s domineering blunderbuss gorgon of an aunt, and also is Gwendolen’s mother.
Cecily Cardew, is the eighteen-year-old granddaughter of the late Thomas Cardew, who found baby Jack in a hand-bag, at the cloak room of Victoria Railway Station (Brighton Line) and then adopted Jack.
Miss Prism as the governess, is a frequent source of bankrupt clichés and severe pronouncements that create audience laughter. Reverend Chasuble entertains unrequited secret romantic feelings for Miss Prism.
Jack Worthing when Ernest, and Algernon Moncrieff are both pretending to be someone they are not, equally superficial and spendthrifts. No man is called Earnest. Jack is moral and Algernon is immoral. Jack Worthing is deeply in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, but Gwendolen is deeply in love with Earnest. We learn of Algernon’s practice of “Bunburying’, posing as Jack’s non-existent brother Earnest.
Algernon Moncrieff instantly falls for Jack’s ward Cecily Cardew, but Cecily is also in love with Earnest. Cecily and Gwendolen are both in love with the same mythical suitor. If only someone was actually Earnest.
This comedy takes amazing absurdities and ironies, blending them together with some of our fondest narrative conceits, and easily puts all of them into proper perspective. Humorous possibilities galore, because trivial behaviour is displayed by all, with mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements, all delivered with perfect comedy timing and with panache, by a perfectly chosen ensemble cast.
Christine Greenough brought her own interpretation of Lady Augusta Bracknell and her secrets, always a snob and stern knowing dominating, however she is always extraordinarily “nouveau riche”. The only quibble about Lady Augusta Bracknell, was that the despite her flamboyant confidence, the expected outraged angry delivery of her line in the first act of “A hand-bag?” was not delivered in the best possible way by Christine Greenough, who was delightfully playing with the snobbishness of the fearsome matriarch, and giving a premier performance throughout.
Christopher Lewis is wonderful in the dual roles of Lane the Manservant in Act One, and returns in both Act Two and Act Three as Merriman the Butler. The accent and mannerisms of Christopher Lewis, together with his choice of a very distinctive costume as Merriman the Butler, his performance was a marvellous joy to behold.
Whilst the original script contains minimal stage directions, fortunately this production, poignantly matches the immaculate quality of the dialogue, with the cast expertly delivering the absolutely perfect ending with Oscar Wilde’s classic retort, spoken by Jack Worthing “I’ve now realized for the first time in my life, the vital Importance of Being Earnest”.
Often when casting an actor into the role of Lady Augusta Bracknell, the director will consider cross-gender casting, since Lady Augusta Bracknell, for an actor simply represents a role of a particular character type, that just happens to be an elderly woman. In recent years, the role of Lady Augusta Bracknell has been performed by Geoffrey Rush (2011 at Melbourne Theatre Company) and by David Suchet (2015 at Vaudeville Theatre), and both brought enormous depth to the role, with their casting delivering performances that were something far more interesting and exhilarating.
Edith Evans, a talented London west-end stage actress, knowingly provided the defining performance of Lady Augusta Bracknell, as a gruesome and very snobby gorgon, in Anthony Asquith’s 1952 technicolor film of the three act version of “The Importance of Being Earnest” shot at Pinewood Studios.
Lady Augusta Bracknell:- ” . . . Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.”
Jack Worthing:- “Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?”
Duration 165 minutes, including one interval.
Tickets:- $40 Adults, $33 Groups 10+ and $30 Preview/Concessions.
Recommended. A very funny and entertaining night out. Performances are at 7:30pm from Wednesday 22nd March 2017 until Sunday 2nd April 2017 (Sundays at 3:00pm) (Saturdays at 2:00pm and 7:30pm) at the Zenith Theatre, corner of Railway and McIntosh Streets, Chatswood.
All photographs by Clare Hawley of Asparay Photography.
The Cast in Order of Appearance:-
John Worthing J.P., Algernon Moncrieff, Lane (Manservant), Lady Augusta Bracknell, Gwendolen Fairfax, Cecily Cardew, Miss Prism (Governess), Doctor Chasuble, Merriman (Butler).
Lady Augusta Bracknell = Christine Greenough (The Moodys ABCtv, The Days are as Grass – Depot Theatre)
Algernon Moncrieff = Eli Gallagher (Creator of E-LIVE)
John Worthing J.P. = Shane Imbert (Underbelly Channel 9, Rake ABCtv)
Cecily Cardew = Lana Kershaw (Wittenberg – Old Fitz, Hamlet – Sydney Shakespeare Company)
Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D. = Richard Mason (Picture of Dorian Gray = Genesian Theatre, King Lear – Sydney Shakespeare Company )
Gwendolen Fairfax = Rowena McNicol (Away – Lane Cove Theatre Co., Diary of Anne Frank – New Theatre)
Miss Prism the Governess = Sandy Velini (The Women – New Theatre, Deadly Women – Foxtel)
Lane the Manservant/Merriman the Butler = Christopher Lewis (Magical Tales – Channel 9, Much Ado about Nothing – Shakespeare on the Green)
Download and read THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST the full 1895 script – – – http://www.bottletreeinc.com/pdf/Importance%20of%20Being%20Earnest.pdf – – –