The importance of being Earnest | Media
The Theatre Royal Windsor presented a brand-new musical of Oscar Wilde's classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest for three weeks in 2012 – from the 19th June to the 7th July.
Often described as the most brilliant comedy in the English language, award-winning scriptwriter and lyricist Douglas Livingstone and composers Adam McGuinness and Zia Moranne transported Wilde's farcical masterpiece and transformed it into a gloriously funny and memorable musical. A tale of confused identities and double dealing, of a long-lost baby and newfound love - and a handbag.
This new musical of Wilde's best-known play saw Gyles Brandreth leading a distinguished company in the role of Lady Bracknell. Bradley played the role of Jack Worthing, the protagonist, who as a child was discovered in a handbag in a cloakroom at Victoria station, and who as an adult has created the alter-ego Earnest to escape country life and enjoy the excitement of London.
Scott Varnham 21st June 2012
Oscar Wilde's trivial comedy for serious people returns to the theatres in the form of a musical, in which you can see Gyles Brandreth (author of the Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series) demonstrate what is possibly the manliest voice of any 'woman' in all of fiction as he plays the role of Lady Bracknell to perfection.
As I am a lover of the original play, it's difficult to know whether to recommend this to people. If it's your first experience of Wilde, I would absolutely recommend it. And I'm sure if you like musicals then you'll love this.
But frankly, the songs felt like an intrusion, rarely bringing anything and sometimes changing the tone of beloved moments by reworking them as song lyrics. Having said that, the quality of them did noticeably improve towards the end as they got funnier (Ms Prism's lament is particularly good in this regard), climaxing with one last song after the pun that it feels like the entire play was written for.
If you don't like musicals, there are still good reasons to see this – Wilde's wit is always a pleasure to be exposed to, Bradley Clarkson and Daniel Boys (as Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff respectively) play their roles perfectly and if you don't see it, you'll miss out on the most butch female voice ever.
All the cast members give this their all, with none phoning it in or letting the side down by playing it too seriously. On the contrary, they understand the vital importance of being Earnest.