The Importance Of Being Earnest Miracle Theatre Penlee Park Theatre, Penzance.
Review by Frank Ruhrmund
WITH words by Oscar Wilde and direction by Bill Scott, Miracle Theatre's production of this classic comedy of manners, from its "handbag" programme to its costumes and choreography, is a winner.
Bursting at the seams with brilliance, played on a perfect evening before a bumper audience with the little theatre in Penlee Park looking at its best, it could not have provided a better start to the 2012 open air summer season of events being held there.
A high energy production which lives up to its claim of adding "an extra dimension" to Wilde's final but funniest play, possibly its most unusual aspect, for this company is the fact that, although a few "inconsistencies have been ironed out", it remains remarkably true to the original and is one of which Oscar himself would surely have approved.
Although, for the most part, the company has resisted the temptation to tamper with Wilde's masterpiece, it wouldn't be Miracle Theatre unless it brought something special to it, and no one comes more special than Benjamin Dyson as the aggressive, umbrella-toting, "handbag" Lady Bracknell. A superb piece of cross-dressing, he also scores when wearing trousers as the attentive Merriman, with his silent but very comical body language which speaks volumes.
He receives splendid support from Ciaran Clarke who as Jack Worthing could not be either more worthy or earnest, Wesley Griffith as the seemingly starving Algernon Moncrieff, Rebecca Rowe as the charming country girl Cecily, Catherine Lake as both Gwendolen "Good Heavens!" Fairfax and the figurehead of a figure Miss Prism, and Dominic Power, in another neat double, as Dr Chasuble and the "perfect pessimist" Lane.
Together, they serve up a delicious and delectable, warm and witty, confection of scintillating dialogue, of mistaken identities, of foundlings and frustrated romance, which demands to be played at a "turkey trot" pace and with considerable style. In the happy event, it gets more than enough of both to make this the best production of Oscar Wilde's "trivial comedy for serious people" that I have yet seen.
If you missed it here, then catch it at the Minack Theatre where it is playing from June 25 to 29, or at any one of the many other venues it is playing at during its summer tour. See www.miracletheatre.co.uk