The Importance of being… Earnest?

Pleasance Courtyard (Beyond)
Aug 12 – 14, 19 – 21, 26 – 28
15 – 18, 22 – 25, 13.30

Pleasance Courtyard was busy just down from North Bridge in the hot sunshine. The complex had lot’s of families enjoying the times between shows. ‘The Importance of being…Earnest’ was to be performed in the Beyond venue, that turned out to be a larger room with seating in the hundreds. I am a little familiar with this Oscar Wilde play so as we went in to sit the set was no surprise it was a room with a door, with the mod con’s in the fashion of the hundred year old play.

In the first scene two finely dressed gentlemen began with that most flavoursome dialogue Wilde is known and loved for, full of regard and straightforwardness. The air was jovial between the two so I settled in expecting an acting master class in a play called trivial comedy for serious people.

There was a huge unexpected turn of events; as when Earnest was in earnest introduced (to come through the door) it didn’t open and no one appeared. Ok so what had happened? How could a play ending catastrophe happen on a stage like this?

Running on stage the Director himself took a microphone in the disruption to apologise; by this time we knew that the obligatory twist to the tail would be something surprising. I won’t tell you here and now how things unfolded and spoil the story of event after event but after it all had happened I can say that it can stand as a great tribute to the flamboyant playwright.

Swinging open the doors for scenes of mayhem, live action that defied theatrical comprehension (yet was grounded by the strongest of takes on it). Improvisation was stretched beyond belief as all ties were cut from any kind of dusty retelling with or without good diction.

A roaring cast had to dialogue with inexperience and had a lot of breath gasping prompting. Uncertainty screamed and howled with tantalising comedy, and a revitalising use of craft pulled us in every direction possible. I had not seen this side of live play before as it oozed in creative freedom while always continuing to try and tell the tale of Earnest who after all was only in love.

Dealing with the cast, the crowd, the Oscar Wilde elements we were allowed into the bones of a cast controlled by its director, and there was no little amount of tenderness and care to be absorbed when things and moments of unfolding really got very sticky. Prompted by disbelief our emotions were taken on a ride like a rollercoaster with unhinged wheels.

A most complete show to be envied, a true dedication that chose well ‘The Importance of being …Earnest’ offering all the joys Wilde would glow with. The original 1895 script whose title was of such importance is always interpreted in a different way, with a chance to escape the problems of the world, in this show the whole thing stood on its head while balancing on a ball.

Daniel Donnelly

Posted on August 14, 2022, in Fringe 2022. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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