The Importance of Being Earnest - Review

NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association)

Review by Hazel Hole
Title image with white flowers and pale blue background.
The Importance of Being Earnest

Title: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Director: Duffy Tomei
Producer: Simon Reader
Performed at Dovercourt Theatre Group Studio on Friday 27th April 2018

I was welcomed by Director, Duffy Tomei and Front of House Manager Margaret Coleman on arrival and had a good and lively discussion with Duffy and the entire cast at the end of the performance. The play is perhaps Oscar Wilde's best known with a familiar storyline and great comedy. However, this was a production with a difference as Lady Bracknell was played by a male actor, Lewis Rodger. What a tremendous performance from Lewis whose facial expressions and facial contortions had the audience in gales of laughter and who interpreted the part with great expertise and enthusiasm.

The action took place over 3 scenes, depicting Algernon Moncrieff's flat and the garden and the drawing room at the Manor House. The sets designed by Simon Reader, were relatively simple due to the limited space in the venue. However it was very effective and appropriate and relied on well positioned props to create the scene. The garden scene , hidden by black curtains until the opening of the scene was particularly noteworthy. The real plants in a container, watered from a watering can was an inspiration. Props and sets changes were seamlessly carried out by the stage crew and props team .

The play was well cast with all 9 actors immersed in their parts. John (Jack) Worthing, played by Greg Potter played a 'dandy' with a most eye catching first costume and Algernon Montcrieff, played by R Porter was the ideal foil as a refined gent. The butler, Merriman, played by Chris Holman and the man-servant,Lane, played by Greg McDowell were suitably restrained and aloof (both of these were also busy changing props etc on the stage when required ) Rev.Canon Chasuble, played by Richard Kemp-Luck, was really absent minded and laid back and played admirably by Richard.

The ladies, Gwendolen Fairfax, played by S.Talbot- Ashby, Cecily Cardew, played by K Johnson and the governess, Miss Prism, played by G Quinn were all important characters and each brought strong performances to the storyline.

The costumes ( Graham Green and Chrissie Donegan and dressers Maree Noons, Linda Potter and Megan Day) were extravagant and delightful as was the hair styling (Graham Green) . The costumes were all sourced from the group's own wardrobe with alterations and adaptations carried out by the team. Lighting and sound (Andrew Dace, Greg Potter and Steve Gregory) created just the right effect and, although there were no microphones, all the actors' words could be heard very clearly. As the venue required the audience to sit at close proximity to the stage it was possible to see the detail of the makeup, which was superbly done by Megan Day. Lady Bracknell's makeup was exceptionally striking !

The actors wore lily of the valley in their buttonholes and on their dresses as did Oscar Wilde on the opening night of the play in 1895. The flowers also featured on the programme which was tastefully designed by Lewis Rodger.

This was a great production, much appreciated by a friendly, enthusiastic and loyal audience and the group can be very proud of this, their 106th production. Well done to everyone involved in any way and I wish you good luck for your next production in August.

Hazel Hole
Assistant Regional Rep
NODA District 11