Review: The Importance of Being Earnest, Newcastle University Theatre Society via stream.theatre

Newcastle University Theatre Society stage an online production of The Importance of Being Earnest in aid of Acting for Others

“You’re quite right in making some alteration”

Although theatres in England are starting to reopen their doors, the impact of the lockdowns is still being disproportionately felt by many in the arts community. So it is fantastic to see people still grabbing the reins to come up with fundraising efforts for Acting for Others, the theatrical charity whose network of member charities offering financial and emotional assistance and support to those in the entertainment profession.

To that end, students from Newcastle University Theatre Society have mounted a production of The Importance of Being Earnest, available to watch online now on stream.theatre, performed and filmed in an empty Sunderland Empire. Directed by Adam Kinneen, he has added a framing device which introduces Oscar Wilde himself as a character, biographical snippets contrasting starkly with the intrinsic lightness of his play.

It’s a canny move as it is tricky to do much with Wilde’s plays other than stage them in their traditional milieu. And that is how the familiar pleasures of …Earnest are presented here, Jay Robinson and Bugsy Bannon both indulging in fully ripe performances as Algernon and Gwendolen respectively, Max Brennan’s Jack and Martha Watson’s Cecily serving ably as slightly more grounded wingmen for both.

And Leo MacNeill’s Oscar finds an apposite plangent depth for his characterisation, well partnered in his scenes by a beautifully measured performance from Conor O’Hara as Robbie Ross. If anything, the final interlude overruns as it tries to pack too much of Wilde’s tragic downfall rather than providing the finishing grace note that would wrap things up more efficiently. But highly watchable and for a great cause, now dip into your handbags and donate!

Running time: 2 hours
The Importance of Being Earnest is streaming via stream.theatre until 16th July

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