St Jude's Players
St Jude's Hall (Grundy Hall)
Until 25 Nov 2017

Review by Luke Wagner

Since moving into the public domain, “The Importance of Being Earnest” has become a popular staple in the theatre community. St Jude’s Players are the latest company to take on the Oscar Wilde classic and they do so with great success.

Jack Worthing is in town enjoying life away from the country when his friend, Algernon Moncrieff begins to unravel a series of lies that have seen Jack pose as Ernest in order to spend time with Algernon’s cousin Gwendolyn, to whom he wishes to be married. Algernon seizes the opportunity to let chaos continue by going to Jack’s home in the country to pose as the mysterious Ernest to woo his ward Cecily. The only thing standing in the way of a happy ending is Lady Bracknell, who will not allow Jack to marry Gwendolyn unless his true identity can be resolved. The perfect level of chaos for theatre.

This production is highly effective in the overall delivery of this classic tale. Matthew Chapman does well in the role of Jack Worthing. Robert Bell as Algernon was simply charming to watch. He delivers his role with charm and charisma to spare. Vanessa Redmond as Gwendolyn and Brittany Daw as Cecily were charming and fun in their roles as the two confused love interests of the various Ernests; however, their pace did lag in their scenes together, losing some of the humour. Lesley Reed as Miss Prism and David Lockwood as Doctor Chasuble were also effective in their roles. Andy Winwood as Lane and Merrimen, the butlers, was fun and entertaining.

The standout of this show was Andrew Clark in the role of Lady Bracknell. Clark plays the iconic role brilliantly. His timing and pace is absolutely on point from start to finish and he knows at exactly what point of a line to extract humour. St Jude’s may be the first amateur company in South Australia to follow the new tradition of stunt-casting Lady Bracknell, in the style of Geoffrey Rush, and it is a winning decision.

The set of this show is simple which in turn allows the actors to shine. The simple and effective lighting plan moves seamlessly from Jack’s garden to the living room with ease. Clever use of Winwood as Merrimen the butler during set changes also went down an absolute treat with the opening night audience.

This classic play is by no means losing popularity. With each time it is produced, fans are returning to see their favourite play, while younger audiences are experiencing it for the first time – and, if St Jude’s production is their first impression, they are sure to be fans for life.