Saturday, 27 September 2014

In Which there is Wildean Fun

We are very fortunate that Bath Theatre Royal has(usually) a new show every week, plus the productions at the Ustinov, and we get to see many productions wither before, or after, a West End run. 
This season is particularly rich, and I was rather extravagant in the number f tickets I booked when the brochure came out...

Last night I was in Bath to meet up with my 2nd Cousin, to have dinner and go to see  'The Importance of Being Earnest', starring Nigel Havers, Martin Jarvis and Siân Phillips

There is, of course, a slight issue with this - Havers is 63, Jarvis 73, and Gwendolen (Cherie Lunghi) and Cecily (Christine Kavanagh) are also older than the average debutante.

To address this issue, this production used the setting of an aging amateur dramatics group, preparing for a production of 'Importance', the idea being that we are watching the final dress rehearsal, at the home of two of the members. 

This kind of works: There are jokes about the cucumber sandwiches being eaten by members of the cast, and side play involving a stage hand with a ladder, but while these were entertaining, I am not entirely sure that that production might not have been better played straight, despite the advanced age of the players.

Once the Wilde was under way, it was excellent, but there were points where I felt that the wish to follow through with the 'modern Am Dram' meant that there were some points where this overshadowed the original play - for instance, Gwendolen's line about the name Ernest 'producing vibrations' is an excude for some very modern over-acting, which was a shame.

All that said, it was a lot of fun. Siân Phillips was excellent in the Lady Bracknell role, as was Rosalind Ayers as Miss Prism. Nigel Havers played Nigel Havers beautifully.

I'm glad I went, and I had fun, but I think another time I would prefer to watch the play Wilde write, not one with additions by Simon Brett!

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