Set firmly in the Victorian moral climate, the play not only contains some of the most biting of the writer’s bon mots, but underlines the lasting imbalance of the way society views the behaviour of men and women.
Here, Mrs Erlynn attempts to rejoin the society she renounced by a long-past indiscretion. Men think nothing of calling on her, but could not imagine introducing her to their judgemental wives.
Paul Townsend’s production, played on Bob Price and Mike Kempton’s elegant, clever and versatile set, brought 24 members of the company to the stage, dancing, intriguing and disapproving.
Iain Muton-Phillips was starchily concerned as Windermere, with Eliane Morgan as his confused young wife and Karen Treves, giving a compelling performance as the woman with the secret, Mrs Erlynn (but perhaps she could have been more elegantly dressed) .
Lois Harbinson was a marvellously contradictory and domineering duchess, with Deb Goater’s comical Lady Jedburgh competing for dowagerly dreadfulness.
Particularly effective was act three, in which the men gather in the small hours at the house of the louche-but-enraptured Lord Darlington (Kevin Hardacre). This difficult scene was entirely convincing in the hands of these fine actors.
There was a barnstorming performance from newcomer Christopher Hood as the crusty but smitten Lord Augustus, and Dennis Barwell proved the effectiveness of perfect comic timing in the small role of Mr Dumby.
Street Theatre gave an excellent reading of the Wilde classic, demonstrating again the versatility of the group.