Earnest for King’s

Feb 18 2015 | By More

November date for reimagined Wilde classic

Break out the cucumber sandwiches – the reimagined West End production of The Importance of Being Earnest is touring to the Edinburgh King’s in November.

Directed by Lucy Bailey, with additional material by Simon Brett and design by William Dudley, the production imagines Wilde’s great “trivial comedy for serious people” in the hands of the amateur and less-than-competent Bunbury Company of Players.

Sian Phillips (Lady Bracknell) in The Importance Of Being Earnest. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Sian Phillips (Lady Bracknell) in The Importance Of Being Earnest. Photo: Tristram Kenton

The device has the benefit of allowing older performers to reprise roles they played in their younger years. Three of the cast who performed the production in London’s West End in 2014 are returning to their roles.

Nigel Havers returns to the role of Algernon Moncrieff he played in Sir Peter Hall’s 1982 production at the National Theatre. Siân Phillips is again practising her swooping, soaring roar as Lady Bracknell, a role she performed to excellent reviews in Washington, and Christine Kavanagh will reprise her role as Cecily Cardew.

Further casting has yet to be announced.

Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest elegantly lampoons the hypocrisies of Victorian society and opens as two bachelors, the dependable John Worthing JP and upper class playboy Algernon Moncrieff (Nigel Havers), feel compelled to create different identities in order to pursue two eligible ladies Cecily Cardew (Christine Kavanagh) and Gwendolyn Fairfax.

The hilarious misadventures which result from their subterfuge – their brushes with the redoubtable Lady Bracknell (Siân Phillips) and the uptight Miss Prism result in a plot that twists and fizzles with some of the finest dialogue to be found in theatre.

Nigel Havers said: “This production is very close to my heart and we had a ball doing it in the West End last summer. I’m thrilled we get to do it all again and hope audiences in Edinburgh will laugh and enjoy watching our twist on Oscar’s brilliant play as much as we enjoy performing it.”

While the production had good houses in the West End, it has not had universal praise from the critics. In the Guardian, Michael Billington thought he could hear noises off from Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery, where Wilde would have been spinning in his grave. And in the Telegraph, Charles Spencer declared that he had never laughed less at a performance of the play.

However, Pete Benson urged his readers to go and see it, and wrote of “wonderful pace and timing” and “some fabulous physical comedy” in his review for The Public Reviews, while the Daily Mail apparently said it gave Earnest “a terrific twist” in its five star review.

Potentially contentious stuff then. And maybe the SCDA will have to organise a picket of the King’s Stage Door.


The Importance of Being Earnest
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 November 2015
Tickets on sale to Friends of the Festival and King’s from February 23 and on general sale from March 2, 2015.

The Importance of Being Earnest on Tour:

All Tickets on sale soon – more dates to be announced.

Richmond Theatre, Richmond
10 Sep – 12 Sep 2015

Milton Keynes Theatre
15 Sep – 19 Sep 2015

The Orchard Theatre, Dartford
22 Sep – 26 Sep 2015

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
29 Sep – 03 Oct 2015

The Lowry, Salford
06 Oct – 10 Oct 2015

Swan Theatre, Wycombe
13 Oct – 17 Oct 2015

Wyvern Theatre, Swindon
27 Oct – 31 Oct 2015

Darlington Civic
03 Nov – 07 Nov 2015

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
10 Nov – 14 Nov 2015

Grand Opera House, York
17 Nov – 21 Nov 2015

Kings Theatre, Glasgow
24 Nov – 28 Nov 2015


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