The Importance of being Ernest
Well, this just wasn’t my favourite production of Oscar Wilde’s play – some miscasting certainly. Modern as it maybe, and unpopular to say so, but Algernon cannot be black. It simply does not fit the story. I couldn’t adjust visually nor reconcile the attitude of Lady Bracknell with her nephew’s appearance. Were we not meant to notice? Fehinti Balogun (RADA trained, WestEnd debut) did a reasonable job but he looked more pimp than dandy. I found his diction imperfect and Wilde’s script requires more careful delivery.
Jacob Fenton-Lloyd (The Moderate Soprano) played Jack and was the most accomplished actor, though there were occasions when he was a bit too like Mr Bean. Poor direction.
There have been many actors who have defined Lady Bracknell as theirs – Dame Penelope Keith, Dame Patricia Routledge, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench, even David Suchet as a Dame. A hard act to follow and Sophie Thompson (Celebrity Masterchef 2014) emulated them quite well but her delivery was often a bit too fast. She could have over-played the part, it might have improved the whole production.
I have no idea what the director, Michael Fentiman (Shakespeare Unlocked for the BBC) thought he was doing introducing kissing moments between same-sex actors. It was as if he could not separate Wilde from his play. Very confusing, unnecessary and the subject of some discussion around me at interval – and not in a good way.
Overall it was a disappointment. Sad.
However nothing that supper in the Thames Foyer at The Savoy couldn’t cure.
Adjacent to a portrait of Her Majesty to commemorate her role as Patron of British Red Cross, The artwork by Henry Ward depicts the Queen wearing her flowing garter robes as she sits in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.
It is quite life-sized.