In The Importance of Being Earnest, prim-and-proper Jack Worthington is in love with the equally prim-and-proper Gwendolen Fairfax. His friend Algernon Moncrieff is in love with Cecily Cardew. But both Gwendolen and Cecily are in love with Ernest. Meanwhile, the imposing Lady Bracknell is dubious about a story involving a handbag …
The last major West End outing for the Wilde comedy was at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1999, when Patricia Routledge played Lady Bracknell in Christopher Morahan’s production transferred from the Chichester Festival (See News, 11 Jun 1999). In Gill’s production, designed by William Dudley, Keith is joined by Janet Henfrey, William Ellis, Harry Hadden-Paton, Daisy Haggard, Rebecca Night and Maxwell Hutcheon.
But all of the first night critics’ eyes were understandably on Penelope Keith and she didn’t in that renowned role that “she was created by the theatrical gods to perform”. Other cast members who impressed included Harry Hadden-Paton as an “enjoyably energetic” Jack, and Daisy Haggard and Rebecca Night who are “deliciously sexy and sparky” as Gwendolen and Cecily. While “not especially remarkable”, the production still allows Wilde’s “theatrical genius” to shine through and as such is “perfectly worth seeing”.
- by Tom Atkins