Nicola Harvey enjoys a theatre classic from Oscar Wilde

I was so looking forward to seeing The Importance of Being Earnest again and luckily this production didn’t disappoint. What could be better on a freezing cold night than a little Oscar Wilde?

Not much, as it turns out. The set was reassuringly traditional, Algernon ate plenty of cucumber sandwiches and muffins and the whole thing was sensibly silly.

Cast wise, I couldn’t have asked for more. Algernon, played by Thomas Howes, was more characterful than any I’ve seen and Jack (Peter Sandys-Clarke) balanced him perfectly. I loved Gwen Taylor’s Lady Bracknell. You can’t help but wait for ‘the line’, and I’m pleased to say that her delivery of “a handbag” was neither over blown and cliched nor a throwaway line. Perfect. I loved the costume design. Lady Bracknell’s excessive bustle seemed rather appropriately dragon like and Algie and Jack were more defined by their clothes than in other productions I’d seen.

Once in rural Hertfordshire, we met a new cast of delights. Miss Prism was a bit of a show stealer along with Chasuble, played by Geoff Symer. Cecily was perfectly over played by Louise Coulthard and was just as silly as she should be (although pity Algie and Jack once she and Gwendoline teamed up-what a pair!).

All in all, I felt this production made this frankly beautifully daft plot so much more than the backdrop for some of Wilde’s most memorable quotes that it can so easily become. Whilst I was waiting to hear that “all women become like their mothers; that is their tragedy”, those lines were neatly dropped into a complete and perfectly judged piece of theatre.

Do get along to see this if you can.

www.theatreroyal.org.uk