When you take on a play as famous and beloved as Oscar Wilde’s wonderful comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, you are setting yourself up for a challenge. While the writing can almost carry a production by itself, the actors are competing against Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Judi Dench and Reese Witherspoon in many imaginations, and perhaps David Suchet-in-drag in others. Add to this the fact that the StAge is just not a good space for theatre (at least not when used conventionally), and this production team were giving themselves a very difficult task. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one they could meet.
Oscar Wilde’s perennially popular The Importance of Being Earnest brings to life two hours of muddled identities, questionably hasty engagements and hilarious satire on Victorian society. It is an easy play to do, relying on quick wit and often caricatured characters, but it is a difficult play to do well, and here most productions invariably slip up. This production’s professionalism was unwavering, from the impressive set to the complimentary cucumber sandwiches provided in the interval, but for all its visual and technical achievements it was occasionally let down by its acting.