Review: Viva’s production of ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde at the Brook Soham Friday 16th October 2010

Oscar Wilde’s wit never ceases to make us smile and in Viva Theatre Company’s production of his play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, Oscar was indeed always present.  The clarity of diction, inflection and delivery of the actors gave every ‘one-liner’ its full value. There was hardly a moment without the audience spontaneously laughing in recognition of his unique observations of life, courtship and marriage. Although the play is set in times gone by, it was quite relevant to the present and the audience knew it.

Daniel Schumann’s impressive work as Director was very much in evidence. This was a smooth-running, delightful production. ‘Algy’ (played by Joshua Schumann) was a real toff, his attractive eyes full of mischief, his gestures sweeping and grand. He teased his friend ‘Jack’ (or ‘Ernest’) (Darren Smith) mercilessly.  Jack soon involved the audience in his emotional confusion as life seemed to deliver him blow after blow, starting with Algy preventing him from proposing to his ward, Gwendolen (Kirsten Green). Gwendolen and Cecily (Hannah Goodger) were a pair of beautiful young ladies with the ability to charm, sooth or fight with real venom as their love lives were thwarted time and again.  Central to the ups and downs of these characters and their relationships was the importance of the name ‘Ernest’. Lady Augusta Bracknell (Esther Hiller) enunciated her words to perfection as the domineering and meddling ‘Lady’. We waited with bated breath for her indignant words ‘a handbag?’ when she was told that the suitor for her daughter Cecily’s hand in marriage did not know his parents and had been found in a handbag at Victoria Station. She did not let us down, the words rang out delightfully with righteous incredulity.

 Dr Frederick Chasuble (David Tickner) pontificated in a most affectatious manner, just like those over-seasoned vicars we recognise from times past. David also made an admirable butler (Lane). Miss Prism (Delia Tickner) easily became the lovable, pivotal character who tried to tutor her wayward pupil Cecily but was easily side-tracked by her affections for the vicar. However, finally she was the one who solved the mystery of the baby in the handbag and it was soon discovered that Jack’s name was really Ernest and all was well.  Daniel, needless to say, caught servant Merriman’s disdain perfectly.

With the support of producer  Sarah Dowd and an excellent crew, this production was a wonderful success.

If you are interested in becoming involved with this delightful company you are invited to attend the AGM on Thursday 4th November 2010 7.30 pm in the Drama Studio, Beechurst, Soham Village College.

Contact: http://www.viva-group.org.uk

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