Skip to main content

Review of The Importance Of Being Earnest performed by The Masque Theatre at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

It is still a relatively rare event that I venture into the theatre environment knowing the play that I am about to see. However last evening for my latest trip to the wonderfully cute playhouse, Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest was one of those rare occasions. The latest Masque production, directed by Robert Kendall with a lively flair on the compact stage was once again going to provide a hugely enjoyable evening.

The Importance Of Being Earnest is an endlessly funny play of confusion, social commentary and farce, revolving around fake relations and false names which needs seeing rather than explaining.

Our opening characters are Algernon Moncrieff (Robin Armstrong) and his manservant Lane (a suitably droll Craig Macpherson). They comfortably set the scene of a typical upper class environment, with Robin a gloriously precise deliverer of his lines, eater of muffins and cucumber sandwiches. He also has a particularly perfect timing for the most rude and comical lines, oozing every effect from Wilde's witty dialogue. For much of the play he has the most perfect sparring partner in John Worthing, played by Josh Redding. Without any question the performance of the show, and easily for me one of the best single ones I have seen from Masque. He looks the part, sounds the part and facial expressions at times are simply side splitting brilliant. A professional standard performance if ever I have seen one in an amateur show, and one assuredly to watch in the future.

Holly Lowe, straight back from a wonderful Masque debut in Shaxpeare's Box is again quite brilliant. Bringing a sweet, yet devilishly cunning attitude to Gwendolen Fairfax. She is one of those actors that as an audience member, you frequently cannot take you eyes of as she just exudes fun. I actually hope soon to see what she can do with a more unlikable character.

Completing a trio of spectacular quality new young blood to Masque is Jade Wright as Cecily Cardew. Early on uncannily similar to Holly, she becomes much more confident as she begins sparring off to Holly's character. Just like Robin and Josh, these two are at their best when working together. Sparking off one another with glee.

For myself slightly less successful is the characterisation of Lady Bracknell by Jan Stoppani. There is a feel of slight hesitation in the performance (which could well be blamed on opening night) and I really didn't feel the playing was brusque enough. This is perhaps more a personal preference of the playing and may admittedly be confused by the last Lady Bracknell I saw being David Suchet. I did also have a slight reservation of the decision for the whole cast crying the classic "a handbag" line, although it did have some comic merit.

Mark Mortimer has once again created a wonderful backdrop for the play to weave is comical path out on. With the set moving smoothly from Algy's flat onto the drawing room at the Manor House via the garden. The garden in particular was wonderfully dressed with plentiful flora. On the production front, I also absolutely loved the collection of sounds as Worthing dug deep looking for a certain item. Great stuff.

So another absolutely cracking play from Masque keeping the standard very high. This is blessed with several performances of a very high standard. I am absolutely ready for the next Masque, where I understand the antics will be rather saucy. However, for now be earnest and catch this particular one while you can.

Performance reviewed: Tuesday 5th April, 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton. 

The Importance Of Being Earnest is performed by the Masque Theatre and runs until Saturday 9th April, 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton.

Details can be found at http://www.masquetheatre.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Rules For Living at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

It is possibly a rule in life for a few in the audience for the opening night of Sam Holcroft's domestic comedy Rules For Living not to mention Christmas until December. Therefore anyone of such a persuasion might have been a little perturbed to be presented on the 13th September with, an undeniably brilliantly dressed, homely Christmas scene.

Opening up in glorious dollhouse style and on a gorgeous little hinge, this little home of living room and kitchen sets the scene for a typical family Christmas. Mother Edith (Jane Booker) welcomes her sons, Matthew (Jolyon Coy) and Adam (Ed Hughes) and their respective partners, Carrie (Carlyss Peer) and Nicole (Laura Rogers) And with a final dramatic arrival of father Francis (Paul Shelley), the scene is very much set for comic antics of the highest calibre.

The first thing you get from Rules For Living in the first few minutes is the arrival of one of the most brilliant, yet simple concepts I have seen for a while in the play. These are …

Review of Make Way For Lucia by John Van Druten at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

There have been a couple of television versions of the Mapp & Lucia novels by E. F. Benson over the years and irrespective of which generation version you might have seen, the roles of Miss Mapp and Mrs. Lucas were filled with some heavyweight performers. So taking on these roles could, in theory, be a challenge too much to live up to. However, that would be if the characters themselves were less the sum of the performer. These are great characters on paper as well as on stage and therefore Gena McCrystal (Miss Mapp) and Juliet O'Connor (Lucia) make them very much their own in the stage adaption by John Van Druten.

Lucia has arrived and breezed both into the town of Tilling and the musical chair roundabout of house rental that is want to occur here. Her rented property is Miss Mapp's and for some reason, Mapp fails to follow the routine of keeping away, constantly "popping in", so the battle lines are drawn.
Make Way for Lucia is the typical battle of supremacy i…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…