The Importance of Being … Earnest …? (Omnibus Theatre, Studio)

Say It Again, Sorry? have put together a very silly show which is a complete travesty of its source material … and that is said as a compliment to the company!

We are here to watch The Importance of Being Earnest, but not as Oscar Wilde even envisaged it. Algernon and Lane are on stage talking about playing the piano and the vagaries of marriage, but the actor playing Ernest is “stuck in traffic”.

Lane and Algernon in The Importance of Being ... Earnest?
Lane and Algernon in The Importance of Being … Earnest?

Cue the first of several fill-in performers taken from the audience, and hilarity ensues. Bracknell declares she won’t “work with amateurs”, Gwendolyn gets blotto when she refuses the “stage wine”, Cecily gets called off to an audition, there’s no Prism, and Algy goes AWOL.

References to pop culture from Harry Potter to Toto (“I bless the rains down in Africa”) abound, props are dropped, chairs are improvised, and what’s left of the play hangs by a thread.

This is a delightful send-up of a classic piece of drama: perhaps best enjoyed if you know the source material, but it isn’t necessary. The audience members – female playing Ernest and (briefly) Algy, male playing Gwen, Cecily and (very briefly) Bracknell were all game for a laugh and kept the pace up.

Bracknell in The Importance of Being ... Earnest?
Bracknell in The Importance of Being … Earnest?

The Say It Again, Sorry? company are good improvisers and interpreters of fast-moving situations. They comprise Simon Paris, Guido Garcia Lueches (Algy), Trynity Silk (Gwen), Susan Hoffman (Bracknell), Josh King, Ben Mann (Josh the techie), Rhys Tees (Lane and Bracknell), Louise Goodfield (Cecily), with associates Tom Cray, Jack Lowerson, Meg Dixon and Jacinta Maud.

Alex Phelps plays Simon, the beleaguered director who has the hat but not much else as misfortunes build around him. This is madness with method behind it, but even the best laid plans go astray, as Oscar Wilde never said (it was that Scottish sage, Robert Burns, but in his own vernacular).

Planning at the time of writing to go to the Brighton Fringe, The Importance of Being … Earnest? will give you a laugh. Do catch it if it heads your way.

All images courtesy of Say It Again, Sorry?

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see The Importance of Being … Earnest?