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The Importance of Being Earnest review at Brockley Jack London

One of Oscar Wilde’s many paradoxes was that he expressed himself through dazzling social comedy as a kind of brittle, dramatic lie, superficially far removed from the bitter facts of his own life.

This production, briskly directed by Kate Bannister, throws its energy into cultivating the trivial surface. While very much in the spirit of Wilde, it misses the chance to bring out the socially critical undercurrents or to sting us with contemporary relevance.

Set against Karl Swinyard’s elegant art deco backdrop, the result is dated, suitably heartless and fun. The acting is exaggerated, for the most part to good effect, though the actors falter over some of Wilde’s incessant aphorisms.

Dapper in spats and waistcoat, Jack Hughes is a boyish and bad Algernon Moncrieff and Robert Curtis is a suitable foil as the older, steadier but still fallible Jack Worthing.

Hannah Kimpton, as the Honourable Gwendolen Fairfax, is a chip off the absurd old block Lady Bracknell, played by Sylvia Seymour, who delivers the handbag speech with relative restraint.

Little Cecily Cardew, played by Ami Sayers, is as yet unspoilt but an adept student of the artifice that should ensure her survival in polite, hypocritical society.

Production Information

Brockley Jack, London, Dec 6-Jan 7

Director
Kate Bannister
Producer
Southside Arts
Author
Oscar Wilde
Cast includes
Jack Hughes, Robert Curtis, Sylvia Seymour, Hannah Kimpton, Roger Sansom, Ami Sayers, Margaret Newlands, Christopher Terry
Running Time
2hrs 10mins
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