The Importance of Being Earnest

Wessex Actors Company on tour

OSCAR Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people,” The Importance of Being Earnest, is a perennial on the open air touring circuit, but you won’t see a more sparkling or convincing production than Linsey O’Neill’s for the east Dorset based Wessex Actors Company. Ingeniously devised for a circular performance area that can be adapted for the many venues where it will be seen between now and 28th July, it brings the antics of Jack Worthing, Algernon Moncrieff and the redoubtable Lady Bracknell up close to the audience. This could expose the performers to the sort of scrutiny that sometimes ruins shows, when the cast is indistinguishably unsuited to the roles for which they are cast, but not here. The company has attracted a first rate ensemble for this very familiar play, and the director has chosen a totally contrasted pair to play the butlers, Lane and Merriman, adding to the hilarity of the evening. Paul Lawless and Toby Trimby, both recent drama school graduates, are quite the best Jack and Algernon I have seen in many productions, their convincingly competitive relationship physically and vocally choreographed to perfection. They are ably matched by Lisa Watkinson and Jill Richmond as their intendeds. Russell Biles and Pamela Brewer capture the guilty joy of Canon Chasuble and Miss Prism, and Veronica Ryder’s elegant and haughty Lady B never dips into the charicature that can surround saying: “.. a handbag!” Wilde’s wonderful bon mots are as fresh as when they were first heard in this lovely touring version. See it at Swanage on 29th or Bridport on 30th June, or at Upton on Saturday 6th, Christchurch on 12th, Kingston Lacy on 13th, Sturminster Newton on 19th, Nothe Fort Weymouth on 20th, Wareham on 21st or Poundbury on 28th July. For details, visit   GP-W

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