March 10, 2004

The Importance Of Being Earnest

Could there be any readers of this distinguished tome, who have not experienced and evening at the theatre courtesy of Pirton Players? Well if you haven’t, let me recommend their future productions. The Players put in a lot of effort to make the evening enjoyable and it really does feel like you’re in the theatre.

The latest performance “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde is “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” and was directed by Betty Turner.

The play gave Wilde an opportunity to satire both the life of the English Aristocracy (an institution for which he had great contempt) and the Institution of Marriage, which he saw as trivial. He successfully tied his contempt for both with great humour and wit. The aristocracy used marriage as a vehicle for social progress and less as an expression of love.

Comedy has to be the most difficult skill to perfect and a social farce based in the Victorian era is an added complication in getting the audience to react positively. From the response of the audience on and the warmth of appreciation at the end, the cast certainly succeeded in providing an entertaining evening.

The set was well designed and Betty’s direction was sensitive and secure. Success with Wilde is to let the words do the work, the actors need to be relaxed and understand the verbal jigsaw that such a great writer was putting together. The audience needs to be convinced about the relationships. In this performance the Principles succeeded in this objective.

A problem for the amateur theatre is to be able to cast the age groups correctly, and therefore the actors really have to work hard to get into character and not look self-evidently awkward. I would like to give a special mention to Janet Eccles, which is a real find and convinced me she really was a scatty and extremely spoilt young girl.

I enjoyed Neil Insull as the foppish and irksome Algernon who warmed to his task and was so believable, that he really did make me dislike the arrogance he represented. He so irritated me that I did not want him to succeed in his pursuit of Cicily.

Congratulations to Pavi Warwicker and Rosie Hamilton-McLeod, in their debuts. It really is great to see new faces. The strength of Pirton Players is the versatility of the group and again the performances of this small cast were a credit to the high standards that they have now set. Well done to one and all.

I am going to miss, the fun and good enterprise of Pirton Players, as by the time you read this, I will be in India; no I haven’t been offered a Bollywood contract. If I may take the opportunity to sign off for now by quoting the following, courtesy of Richard David Bach “Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again after a moment or lifetime is certain for those who are friends”. So friends “good-bye” for now!
[Review by: Dennis Sexton]

Director - Betty Turner
Producer  -  Kate Leafhead

Cast
Algernon Moncrieff  -  Neil Insull
Cecily Cardew  -  Janet Tackley
Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax  -  Lou Robinson
John Worthing  -  Richard Eccles
Lady Bracknell  -  Judy McDonnell
Lane (Manservant)  -  Paul Warwicker
Merriman (Butler)  -  Michael Tackley
Miss Prism (Governess)  -  Rosie Hamilton-McLeod
Rev. Canon Chasuble DD  -  Dudley Gentle

Crew
Bar  -  Jill Rogers
Bar  -  Lorna Sexton
Costumes  -  Valmai Guess
Costumes  -  Gena Edwards
Director  -  Betty Turner
Front of House  -  Carol Brown
Hair Styling  -  Fran Manning
Incidental Music  -  Ted Turner
Lighting  -  John Edwards
Lighting  -  Peter Johnson
Lighting Design  -  Derek Webb
Producer  -  Ed Picken
Producer  -  Kate Leafhead
Programme  -  Ted Turner
Programme  -  Ed Picken
Prompt  -  Kate Leafhead
Props  -  Liz Chapman
Props  -  Liz Gentle
Publicity  -  Ed Picken
Publicity Design  -  Penny Picken
Refreshments  -  Kitty Howard
Refreshments  -  Pam Finbow
Set Construction  -  Neil Shearer
Set Design  -  Sue Kennedy
Sound  -  Dave Wallace
Stage Crew  -  Val Bryant
Stage Crew  -  Gill Eades
Stage Manager  -  Susie Welch
Technical Design  -  Dudley Gentle

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