Review: A Woman of No Importance, Vaudeville Theatre

“The world is made for men, not for women”

Does the world really need more Oscar Wilde? A whole season’s worth? One of the less inspiring decisions of the year was this takeover of the Vaudeville by the Classic Spring Theatre Company. Perhaps aware of this, Dominic Dromgoole has identified something the world really does need more of – Eve Best in our theatres (and later in the season, Kathy Burke directing). But is that enough to mitigate the resuscitation of this lesser-performed work.

Well almost. There’s no pretending that A Woman of No Importance is a particularly great play which has been languishing unfairly in the doldrums. But it does have the bonus of being a women-heavy play and one with an intriguingly strong thread of feminist thought to it. After a dalliance that resulted in a child, Mrs Arbuthnot’s social ruin is contrasted with Lord Illingworth’s consequence-free escape but 20 years down the line with their son all grown up, their paths cross again.

Best and Dominic Rowan combine effectively as the warring couple, an illicit sexual charge still palpable between them even now. But weirdly, the play takes its merry time to get there with a whole load of upper class twittering going on for the majority of the first half. It’s well done by the likes of Eleanor Bron and Emma Fielding, plus Phoebe Fildes continues a strong end to the year after good work in A Little Night Music, but it saps the life out of a production that has barely gotten started and Best aside, can’t really be recommended. 

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 30th December


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