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Review: Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, Split Second Productions

PUBLISHED: 17:21 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:21 09 May 2018

Jack Coleby as Gwendolen Fairfax and Alex Hooper as Cecily Cardew

Jack Coleby as Gwendolen Fairfax and Alex Hooper as Cecily Cardew

Archant

We all need a bit of silliness in our lives, and Split Second Productions’ adaptation of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ will have you laughing the whole way through and leaving with a smile on your face

A performance by Split Second Productions always comes as a bit of a surprise to its audiences but what you can always guarantee is an inventive and unique twist on literary classics.

We have previously been impressed with their adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing on a sunny evening in the grounds of Berkeley Castle and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in the castle’s beautiful Great Hall, and now it was the turn of Oscar Wilde’s quintessentially British, and hilarious, The Importance of Being Earnest.

The story is one of satirical greatness; poking fun at the uptight values of the day. John Worthing and his friend Algernon Moncrieff, both have alternative identities, or an “invalid friend”, to suit their needs, Worthing’s alter ego Ernest and Algernon’s Bunbury. What follows is a case of mistaken identities, plenty of silliness and laughter, and a lesson, it’s always important to be earnest. And of course, there’s plenty of tea and cucumber sandwiches – it is Victorian England after all!

Wilde’s cherished play has been immortalised on stage and screen a number of times but we highly doubt you’ve seen it quite like this. Under the direction of Jaq Bessel and Bryan Hodgson, this interpretation is fantastically original and laugh-out-loud funny.

Jack Coleby as Algernon Moncrieff and Alex Hooper as John 'Jack' WorthingJack Coleby as Algernon Moncrieff and Alex Hooper as John 'Jack' Worthing

Taking on the challenging task of playing four characters each, Jack Coleby and Alex Hooper are wonderfully engaging throughout, whether they’re portraying the dominating Lady Bracknell or, at the drop of an extravagant hat (quite literally), John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff.

It was truly something to see the two actors perfectly play such a broad range of parts, as well as flawlessly get into character every time, and we just adored Coleby’s Gwendolen and Hooper’s Cecily. Clad in pink shawls and ladies’ hats, the two actors gave a perfectly feminine portrayal of the love rivals after the ‘same man’, complete with girly giggles, facial expressions and Cecily’s exaggerated flouncing around the stage.

Once again, Split Second Productions have made the most of a stunning venue. Audiences surround the stage area in Berkeley Castle’s Great Hall, and the setting is a simple but effective one. A chaise lounge, champagne and garden furniture is all that’s needed, and, of course, a screen for the two actors to make those quick costume changes. More striking venues are coming up on the tour, including Blackfriars Priory, Westonbirt House and Cheltenham Ladies’ College.

We all need a bit of silliness in our lives, and Split Second Productions’ adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest will have you laughing the whole way through and leaving with a smile on your face.

Jack Coleby as Gwendolen Fairfax and Alex Hooper as Cecily CardewJack Coleby as Gwendolen Fairfax and Alex Hooper as Cecily Cardew

The Split Second Productions’ reimagining of The Importance of Being Earnest is to tour the UK from April 28 – June 3, and will include a number of venues in the Cotswolds. For the full list of venues, and to book tickets, visit the company’s website here.

Find Split Second Productions on Facebook and Twitter.

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