What words would one use to assess the wonderfully witty language of Wilde, all is futile in such a quest and so any performance of Mr Wilde’s work is made ever so easier as
his language allows for so much humour and play, so it is with little surprise that Duked Productions presentation of The Importance of Being Ernest was enjoyable without
any major staged production.
Duked Productions was presenting this classic work in contemporary times, perhaps the minimal staging and costuming was due to the restrictions of a touring show. Or was it to breath modern breath into a classic piece, but Wilde’s work is ageless and in this manner it does not need to be dressed in Victorian dress to be pleasurable.
So although the continuity between the venue and the staged concept of contemporary dress was questionable the entire performance was entertaining. This weakness was the general shortcoming of the performance, it becomes slightly confusing for an audience to decipher a
clear given concept; a mix of Wilde’s classic words spoken in the ruins of an ancient abbey (the stunning Jerpoint Abbey in Thomastown), delivered by actors dress in modern fashion garments using current technical props as mobile phones.
Apart from this the narrative journey of the characters was performed in a manner of
conviction and all of the actors vocal projections were pitch perfect. The service that each actor dedicated to Wilde’s language was with knowledge of the importance of his written skill and was delivered with clarity and certainty, they did well to present his amusing and
comic written talents. The knowledge that each actor displayed was with an informed and clear knowledge of their character, from the interactions Algernon had and his manservant
Lane, to the slight physical gestures that inform an audience of the characters personality, the timely rolling of eyes by Cecily. Each character became delightful to watch with their quirky mannerisms and traits.
It is a brave and interesting task for a company to embark on a modern day approach to a classic work, but that is what great and meaningful theatre is about; testing the boundaries,
making things relative and celebrating important works of history.