Jack Studio Theatre, London – until 2 December 2017
As one of Oscar Wilde’s most famous plays, one wonders if The Importance of Being Earnest‘s aged humour and possibly outdated social values will stand the test of time. Thankfully, here, in director Sarah Redmond’s capable hands the story thrives.
The production is driven by the leading performances of Daniel Hall and Riley Jones as Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing respectively, with the pair bringing an infectious cheek and charming energy to the piece, portraying the mischievous socialites with ease.
Hall’s Algernon is instantly warmed to, his strong melodic voice giving elegance to the writing and an electricity to his onstage energy. Similarly, Jones’ John charms, as the actor shows an intelligence and understanding of the material and its cadence that perfectly emulates an 1800’s gentleman.
As Lady Bracknell, Harriet Earle occasionally struggled, perhaps, early on in her career, lacking the Dowager gravitas that Bracknell demands. Earle must, however, be commended for her decision not to concede to the norm and overplay the “Handbag” line, delivering the iconic words with a gloriously dry incredulity.
Redmond directs the piece in a somewhat abstract form, with set and scenery made up of cartoon-esque black and white set pieces, giant calling cards and cut out animals. There’s a hint of the absurd to her interpretation, but nonetheless, this innovative take on a classic play makes for a thoroughly enjoyable two hours.