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Silchester Players - The Importance of Being Earnest

11th to 12th and 18th to 19th May 2012.

Review from Rachel Solomons.

Set in the 1890s, The Importance of Being Earnest is a light hearted comedy of where mistaken identities and foppery can make things go awry.

The action begins in London, in the home of Algernon Moncrieff (James Hellem), a thirty something moneyed individual waiting upon the arrival of his aunt Lady Bracknell (Caroline Martin) and his cousin Gwendolen Fairfax (Sarah Oliver). Algernon’s good friend John Worthing (Roy Glancey) also arrives. During their talk Worthing confesses that he is John in the town and “Ernest”, his badly behaved brother, in the country. He also confesses that he has a ward, a Miss Cecily Cardew (Leanne Qurrey) looked after by Miss Prism (Janice Garrard). When Gwendolen arrives Ernest confesses his love for her and Gwendolen expresses her love for the name Ernest. The pairing is much to the dismay of Lady Bracknell!

Algernon, knowing he is the only one aware of John’s secret travels to John’s country estate as “Ernest” to win the affections of Cecily, who like Gwendolen adores the name. After Gwendolen unexpectedly arrives at the country house, there appears to be one Earnest too many. Will Dr Chasuble (Nick Lock) offer a solution or will things go terribly wrong when the two men’s deceptions are found out?

Leanne Qurrey who played Cecily Cardew was convincing in the role, whilst Caroline Martin, as the dominating Lady Bracknell, played well against Sarah Oliver who was an impressive Gwendolen Fairfax. Also James Hellem and Roy Glancey were exceedingly funny as the Moncrieff and Worthing duo. A final triumph to director Brian Gillett. A trivial comedy for serious people! A most enjoyable evening.


Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

No handbagging for these well-mannered players

An impressive performance of Oscar Wilde's comedy in Silchester

Silchester Players: The Importance of Being Earnest, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, May 11, Saturday, May 12, Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19

It was Dame Edith Evans who immortalised The Importance of Being Earnest many years ago with her classic delivery of the words "A handbag?", and Oscar Wilde's witty dialogue and intriguing characters have certainly stood the test of time.

Silchester Players' production captured the atmosphere of the period extremely well, with beautiful costumes from Beryl Oliver and superb sets designed by Kevin Belcher.

The unlikely tale describes the exploits of two friends, Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing. John is a respected landowner who lives in Hertfordshire with a young ward called Cecily, but when he's in town and needs an alibi he pretends to be his disreputable brother Ernest. Resolving to propose to Algernon's cousin Gwendolen, who knows him as Ernest, he is thwarted by the domineering Lady Bracknell who refuses to let the marriage go ahead because John doesn't know who his parents are, leaving John determined to win her over and claim his bride.

Next we cut to the Hertfordshire estate, where Algernon turns up, masquerading as Ernest in order to meet (and propose to) Cecily unaware that John is preparing to 'kill off' his fictional brother. Gwendolen arrives to add to the confusion, but of course these perfect ingredients for a farce are eventually resolved, and Algernon and John both get their girl.

Wilde's brilliant scripts are full of one-liners and innuendos that need a polished delivery to work well. Directors Brian and Jill Gillett should be very proud of their well-rehearsed cast, who delivered each line with precision.

James Hellem was particularly strong as the roguish Algernon, with Roy Glancey providing a dignified but determined John Worthing. Sarah Oliver as Gwendolen and Leanne Qurrey as Cecily were well matched, and their scene together - where both believe they are engaged to the same Ernest - was particularly strong. Janice Garrard, as Cecily's governess Miss Prism, gave a performance full of character, flirting comically with the rector Rev Chasuble (Nick Lock). Caroline Martin was delightfully imperious as the famous Lady Bracknell, while Clive Solomons and John Kirkby, as the butlers Lane and Merriman respectively, both added some amusing moments, with dry asides and knowing looks.

Altogether a very impressive performance from Silchester Players.