Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

The Importance of Being Earnest
 by Oscar Wilde   directed by Sally Marsh

The Drama Centre, Cambridge, July 2004

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A Review of The Importance of Being Earnest
by Julie Petrucci

With this, the latest Bawds offering,  Sally Marsh produced a sparkling and pacey version of Oscar Wilde's wonderfully satirical comedy of manners The Importance Of Being Earnest.

For those unfamiliar with the somewhat farcical plot, it centres on Jack Worthing and his friend Algernon Moncrieff, two well-to-do young men in London.  In order to give themselves more freedom and an excuse not to do anything they do not wish to, Algernon has a fictitious friend called Bunbury and Jack is known in town as 'Ernest' the name he has invented for a fictitious younger brother, to explain his frequent absences from his country home where his pretty ward Cecily lives.  Jack hopes to become engaged to Gwendolyn Fairfax, who declares she chiefly loves him for his name Ernest. However, another impediment to Jack's happiness is the formidable Lady Bracknell, who shudders at Jack's having being found in a handbag at Victoria Station. Meanwhile, Cecily has decided to marry "Ernest" and when Algernon presents himself in this guise, she immediately accepts his proposal. But she too declares she will only marry an "Ernest". In spite of this, and through some pretty unlikely coincidences, all is happily resolved.

The entire cast oozed talent.  We were treated to some impressive performances, not least from Rosemary Eason, as the aforesaid formidable Lady Bracknell. Rosemary sailed through her scenes dealing with Wilde's one-liners with great gusto ("I do not approve of anything that interferes with natural ignorance") although she left us slightly disappointed with her delivery of the most famous utterance of the play 'a handbag' .

Good casting paired Julian Cooper and Derek Matravers as Jack Worthing / Ernest and Algernon Moncrieff respectively.  These actors worked very well together, both obviously comfortable in their roles and with each other, which made for excellent performances.   Amanda Matravers was exceedingly elegant as Jack's love interest Gwendolyn Fairfax, Amanda pitched her performance at just the right level in a role seemingly tailor-made for her. The extremely versatile Lindsey McAuley was sweet, bouncy and enthusiastic as Algernon's love interest Cecily Cardew: giving a totally believable performance.  The cast was completed and complimented by two admirable performances from Brenda Cottis, as Cecily's governess Miss Prism, Denis Bartlett as the bumbling, apprehensive Canon Chasuble and Derek Brown and Ken Eason as Lane and Merriman.

The excellent acting, elegant settings and the wonderful costumes, supported by first-rate sound and lighting designs made this the most stylish of productions