|The Importance of Being Earnest | Old Mill Theatre|
|Written by Sarah Green|
|Saturday, 02 June 2007 13:25|
The Old Mill Theatre is a magnificent heritage building in South Perth dating back to 1899 – only four years after Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy was first performed for the public in London. The late Victorian architecture of the Old Mill, with its impressive high ceilings and wooden staircases, proffers an ideal atmosphere for Wilde’s play.
Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a director’s delight – a script full of energy, witty innuendo and punchy one-liners. The difficulty presents itself both in making it fresh and doing credit to such a worthy script but The Old Mill Theatre did admirably on both accounts with commendable acting and creative set and lighting decisions.
The cast put together by Old Mill threw themselves into their parts with relish. Their accents were not immediately obvious – a sign that they pulled it off well.
The two main characters, John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff – both who aspired to be Ernest – interacted well together. John, played by John Gould, had a suitable face and build for the part with distinctive, exaggerated features, an expressive mouth and a height that made him perfect as the older, more sensible companion to Algernon. Although bordering on whiny at times, he played the part comfortably.
However, the stand-out was Algernon, played by Derek Clausen, who acted the part of the flippant, charming bachelor with pizzazz. He seemed to enjoy it a great deal, devouring a plate of sandwiches and muffins throughout the play as he simultaneously delivered his lines and wiped the crumbs from his mouth.
Other notables included the part of the doleful butler Lane & Merriman, played by Chris Juckes, who was met with laughter most of the time he was on stage. Erin Hutchinson as Gwendolyn was a pleasure to watch as she seemed to be at ease with her character with her expressive red lips and firm opinions. The formidable Lady Bracknell would have been somewhat more formidable if she hadn’t stumbled over her lines a number of times, slip-ups that were painfully noticeable in the context of the smooth repartee that surrounded them.
The set reflected the evolution of Wilde’s set design in later years to the use of white, carefully highlighted with simple but effective details. The use of layered white walls as a blank canvas for creative lighting and simple set pieces was interesting and impressive.
All in all, The Old Mill’s rendition of The Importance of Being Earnest was well performed and had me chuckling at a number of points. If you’re a fan of this play, you’ll find no real surprises at the Old Mill, but you will certainly appreciate the energy and dedication that this team of actors puts into Wilde’s outstanding script.
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