Theatre review - The Importance of Being Earnest, Blackburn Empire Theatre
PUBLISHED: 10:56 30 May 2019
Blackburn Drama Club bring Oscar Wilde's most famous piece of work to the North West nearly 125 years since it first made its debut.
Oscar Wilde is perhaps one of the most outlandish characters, but equally one of the most important figures in English Literature. No stranger to controversy himself, his work has always contained that piece of his magic touch - something that separates his from everybody else's - but at the same time makes it instantly recognisable as his own.
In 1895 'The Importance of Being Earnest' was performed for the first time on a stage in London and to this day it still manages to stand the test of time. Wilde's writing is raucous, witty, but intelligent as well and it is as important today as it was all those years ago. The Importance of Being Earnest is Wilde's tongue in cheek approach to social conventions and hypocrisy in London at the time, but the script is also laden with Wilde's trademark innuendos. It tells the story of levels of society at the time, of acceptance into a way of life and stolen - then subsequently - mistaken identities leading to waves of beautiful dialogue and energy that you come to expect from one of his plays.
Director Clive Stack has assembled a truly wonderful cast in this telling of Wilde's classic. Praise must also be rewarded for the way he gave all characters their own chance to shine in the show in their own individual way. The maids and servants played in no particular order by Simon Hall, Barbara Chadwick, Ben Ashworth and Chloe Soria St Pierre provided the comedy backdrop and even got their own comedic routines in front of the curtains whilst the set was changed behind then, offering a pleasant distraction for the audience and a hilarious break in the play. Even the stagehands got in on the act between scene changes which gave more to the performance than we intended.
There was a pleasing return to the stage from Claire St Pierre whose effortless rendition of Gwendolen Fairfax was superb, beautifully crafted and funny in her delivery of lines. Gemma Nightingale played Cecily Cardew in a warm and mature performance with support in the second act by Andrew Smith and Jan Burrow as Dr. Frederick Chasuble and Laetitia Prism respectively. A new member of Blackburn Drama Club, Siobhan Edge made her debut for the group in the role of Lady Augusta Bracknell and she clearly had talent with her scornful and often venomous delivery of lines practically spat out to enhance the role. Finally, Dominic Dwyer and Stephen Claxon as Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff were firmly in the driving seat playing the male leads with whom you couldn't help to warm to and breezed through their roles in a truly Wilde way.
The Importance of Being Earnest is a clever play. It is very funny play and there are lines in it that are still relevant today. It is not just the way the show is performed that makes it exceptional, but the way in which it is delivered, and every aspect of this version encapsulated just that. The show was hugely entertaining, enjoyable and hilarious. It was performed just as it was intended to be performed and just how Oscar Wilde wrote it to be performed.
The show continues on Thursday 30th, Friday 31st May and the final performance on Saturday 1st June at 7:30pm. For more information visit the Blackburn Empire website at - www.blackburnempire.com