I was excited about seeing this version of The Importance of Being Earnest, as I had heard that it came with a new twist: the play would be adapted with a framework in which an amateur dramatics group (The Bunbury Company of Players) perform the show – allowing an older generation to take on the key roles. Sadly, Simon Brett’s new material doesn’t make the most of the concept.
I was hoping for something like Noises Off from this piece, directed by Lucy Bailey. But although there are some funny moments, the extra bits seem rather pointless. Indeed, the framework is hardly mentioned at all during the second half.
That said, when it comes to the play proper, the actors involved – even though they are older than their characters – do full justice to their roles. Siân Phillips is particularly good as Lady Bracknell, while Martin Jarvis and Nigel Havers display boyish charm and considerable appeal as Jack Worthing and his friend Algernon.
However, for someone looking to see this play for the first time, this is not the production I’d recommend.