Review: The Importance of Being Earnest at Cambridge Arts Theatre is enjoyable and amusing

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – at Cambridge Arts Theatre until April 14 – is an enjoyable and amusing production, writes James Marston.

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD

A crafted work of words and wit, which remains as funny and as relevant as the day it was written, The Importance of Being Earnest is a classic.

The somewhat whimsical, almost farcical story, that explores themes such as class, identity, family, snobbery and social expectation, the production by the Original Theatre Company makes good use of the Wildean humour, stays faithful to the period and is acted with quality throughout.

Never lacking in pace, the story of the hedonistic Jack Worthing and the “bunburying” Algernon Moncrieff is peppered with memorable “bon mots” from the pen of Wilde.

The imperious Lady Bracknell is played with aplomb and gravitas by Gwen Taylor, of Duty Free and Heartbeat fame, delivering her memorable lines with skill.

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD


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With the backdrop of a stylish set, the pace, energy and tempo is kept throughout as the audience respond to the brilliantly written script. As Earnest becomes Jack and Algernon becomes Earnest, the complications increase as their two young ladies and Lady Bracknell demand explanations.

Throw in the added amusements of the secret drinking governess Prism and the bumbling Canon Chasuble a butler and a maid and Wilde’s clever observation of Victorian society is complete

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Directed by Alastair Whatley, this is an entertaining play and a masterpiece of Wildean wordsmithery.

And in the end, of course, all is well.

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD

Thomas Howes, Peter Sandys-Clarke (c) The Other Richard. Picture: THE OTHER RICHARD

An enjoyable and amusing production.

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