Tag Archives: The Importance of Being Earnest

My Top 5 Showcase: Theatr Clwyd Shows

In the third part of my showcase series for Get the Chance, I thought I’d share five of my favourite Theatr Clwyd shows in conjunction with their #TCTogether project.

Under Milk Wood

I have this production by Terry Hands to thank for falling in love with theatre in the first place. On a cold February night in 2014, I sat on the end seat in the front row of the Anthony Hopkins theatre and was transported to the wonderful world of Dylan Thomas’ famous drama. It featured an excellent cast of Welsh actors whose delivery of the language created a very vivid experience. I can still see the character of Polly Garter (Katie Elin-Salt) under intense spotlight, transfixed by her plaintive tones as she sang of lost love. A true ‘conversion’ experience for me.

Junkyard: A New Musical

Writer Jack Thorne has gone on to critically-acclaimed success with TV dramas like The Accident. This play came hot on the heels of the first in his National Treasure trilogy, and was every bit as good. Set in an adventure playground, it featured a rowdy group of teenagers led by the outspoken Fiz (Erin Doherty). Doherty led the company brilliantly, giving a pitch-perfect performance in a production that used lighting and music to brilliant effect. Emotive and funny, it shone a light on the overlooked corner of an urban landscape.

The Importance of Being Earnest

Anyone who has witnessed the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll pantomime will know that the costume department at Clwyd are a talented bunch. They excelled themselves with this production however, with costumes that were every bit as colourful as the spectacularly rich scenery. Oscar Wilde’s already witty script was brought to life hilariously by the physicality of actors Matt Jessup and Nick Harris in particular. Brilliantly funny, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in a theatre.

Home, I’m Darling

Deservedly winning awards (Best Comedy among them), Laura Wade’s critique of nostalgia and domestication was a beautifully-constructed, well-acted and aesthetically-glorious piece. The bold and impressive scenery – effectively a life-size doll’s house – would have been enough to bowl you over. Thankfully, the acting talents of Katherine Parkinson and Richard Harrington, clearly in their element, brought plenty of humour and vulnerability to their lead characters. It made for a highly original, thoroughly enjoyable play.

Pavilion

I loved this play. Playwright Emily White’s debut is a modern Under Milk Wood, casting a sharp, satirical and dark eye on life in small town Wales. It featured an incredible array of performances from established actors and upcoming talent alike. The true genius of this production was in its realism; the way that White created drama out of the everyday and mundane. The cast brought it to life superbly. I cannot wait for it to be revived for the stage again already.

What are your favourites? Share them using the hashtag #TCTogether, where you’ll also find lots of creative ideas to do during lockdown @clwydtweets.

Written by Gareth Williams

Review The Importance of Being Earnest, Theatr Clwyd by Bethany Mcaulay


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
 
Rife with the daring wit and perceptive observation of society, gender dynamics, and identity, that is now considered to be quintessential of Wilde’s work. A humorous, yet equally astute, and sharp revival of a play that is arguably considered overly-produced, with energising dynamism.
Firstly, there is no ambiguity regarding the place of the actors and the audience – the fourth wall is suitably maintained – yet the almost Shakespearean quality of acting and mirthful spirit of the performers seems to allow for complete immersion within every aphorism that flies from their mouths; making the experience of witnessing this production not merely an observation of a collective group of actors, but an escape into the scintillating perspective and daringly droll world of Wilde.
Physically, most of the actors embody their respective characters with seemingly easily-attainable excellence. Backway and Jessup are impressively skilful in each gesture and movement, embodying precisely the fierce quick-witted physicality and attitudes of both Algernon and John respectively. Their mutual magnetism is established from the very start, and remains equally as alluring in the final scene.
Emma Denly plays Gwendolen with tremendous charm, and is consistently, and humorously, impassioned – making it very much impossible not to feel deeply enamoured of her immaculate characterisation. However, Robyn Cara’s portrayal of Cecily pales in comparison and, though certainly of an adequate standard, does not seem to fulfil the vibrant potential of the character.
Maclean’s interpretation of the ominous matriarch, Lady Bracknell, is formidably sinister – presented with such careful control and flawless superciliousness. Each syllable is pronounced with sharp diction; each movement is consumed by an almost satirical conceit. Though, nevertheless, her subtly, and occasional shines of humour are profoundly effective.
Atmospherically, the set, sound, and lighting are ingeniously suited to the performance, enhancing the environment with an aristocratic elegance and beauty, with subdued and comforting tones that allow not only for the actor to remain the primary focus of the performance, but to have their performances enhanced by the compelling replication of the grandeur of aristocratic Victorian England.
Ultimately, Richard Fitch’s production of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ frankly fulfils, if not supersedes, his already established acclaim through his directorial involvement in ‘Funny Girl’, ‘Urinetown’ and ‘Buried Child’, with an almost immaculate cast, and indisputable vigour from the moment the curtain rises, to the second it falls.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST