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The Importance of Being Earnest (Bristol)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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What a lovely way to end the week. After a hard working five days in the office what could be better to go to the theatre to see a cracking good production.

Floor to Ceiling have definitely done it again in my view. After their wonderful production of “86,400 Seconds at the Brewery Theatre last year, they have come up with another winner, but this time a much more traditional production. The Importance of Being Earnest is probably Oscar Wilde’s most well known comedy. It was also the last play he was ever to write – within a year of it opening in London he was in jail, and the rest as they say is history. It tells the story of the manners and expectations of the society he lived in, and pokes gentle fun at the establishment in a world still divided by class and wealth – nothing much changes!

The story follows the convoluted love lives of two couples – Jack and Gwendolen played by Oliver Millingham and Alex Gilbert and Algernon and Cecily played by Alasdair Buchan and Grace Williams. The play progresses through mistaken identities, double standards and confusion. This is all ably overseen and controlled by the formidable Lady Bracknell, wonderfully played by Jaqueline Tong, who certainly manages to put her own stamp and identity into the part. We are swept through at a good pace until the final expose by Miss Prism played by Penny Lamport when the play comes to a satisfactory conclusion and we discover “The Importance of Being Earnest”.

Mention must be made of John Rayment, as Rev Chasuable, who pops up to offer support at the appropriate moments throughout the play and Stuart Lyddon who plays both Merriman and Lane with a wonderful straight faced tongue in cheek humour.

The play is beautifully directed by Hannah Drake, who seems to have a real feeling for her characters and is able to move the fairly wordy play, which could become static, at a good pace so that your interest is held at all times.

The set, designed by Anna Michaels, is a very simple but satisfying one. Scene changes are done by the cast with open tabs but work very slickly with no interruption to the progress of the story.

The Redgrave Theatre is the perfect venue for this type of play – old fashioned in the best sense of the word but with a lovely atmosphere and such glorious surroundings.

If Floor to Ceiling continues to grow and expand in the way that they have I for one can’t wait for the next production. Please go and see the play and give this local company your support – I can promise you an enchanting evening’s entertainment.


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