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BWW Review: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, The Watermill Theatre

BWW Review: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, The Watermill Theatre

BWW Review: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, The Watermill TheatreKate Budgen's production of The Importance of Being Earnest at The Watermill Theatre is laugh-a-minute funny. The audience are chuckling out loud throughout and it's a lovely experience to be a part of that collective joy.

Oscar Wilde's works do lend themselves to humour - they will always be amusing - but the delivery is also excellent. It's fast-paced, and clearly well considered, but maintains a feeling of spontaneity. No opportunity for a joke is missed out.

Morgan Philpott steals the show in his roles as Lane and Merriman. As the Butler, his delivery is completely straight-faced and serious, but his comic timing is perfect.

Charlotte Beaumont, known for her role in ITV's Broadchurch, has a brilliant energy on stage. Although her portrayal of Cecily can come across as younger than 18, her naivety and petulance don't seem too inappropriate for the character. Her face is very expressive, and she has a knack for throwing away her lines just enough so that the humour is neither signposted too much, nor missed out.

Peter Bray's Algernon stops just short of being a caricature. The sequence involving him and Benedict Salter as Jack with the muffins is particularly memorable. The character is just clueless enough that we forgive him any misdemeanours, and he is really quite likeable.

Salter's portrayal of Jack is a little too measured - he seems rather sensible to be capable of carrying on his Bunburying. It's slightly harder to be as forgiving of him as of his friend. That said, their playful scenes together are very pleasing.

The set, by designer Amy Jane Cook, isn't my cup of tea, but it's effectively minimalist with a William Morris pattern on the back wall and white screening all around the stage. The lurid props are brilliant, if a little anachronistic with the costumes. The latter are detailed and very nice to look at.

Sally Ferguson's lighting is simple, but very effective in evoking a sunny afternoon. The scene changes, set to music, are entertaining, if a little surreal. They mostly seem to involve Algernon dancing spontaneously while Merriman rearranges the furniture.

While The Watermill is not the easiest theatre to get to, it is well worth a trip. It's a very intimate venue, allowing a great view of all the actors' facial expressions, which are wonderfully heightened. The setting is beautiful and the restaurant, bar and grounds mean an evening need not be restricted to just the play.

The Importance of Being Earnest at The Watermill Theatre until 29 June.

Photo Credit: Philip Tull


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