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Theatre Review (Singapore): The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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Wild Rice’s The Importance of Being Earnest will run at The Drama Centre from April 10th to May 4th 2013.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a farcical comedy about John Worthing (Daniel York) and his friend Algernon Moncrief (Brendon Fernandez) who make up identities: John claims to have a brother Ernest in the city, but actually leads a double life as Ernest himself when John’s in the city. Algernon takes on the identity of “Ernest from the City”, in order to woo John’s ward Cecily Cardew (Gavin Yap) as John tries to court Gwendolyn Fairfax (Chua En Lai).

Oscar Wilde’s script is witty and funny, and through Glen Goei’s deft direction, the actors with their great comedic timing and physically comedic body gestures and movements help add punch to the already humourous script. Hence the delivery of lines and performances from each actor is riveting to watch and the production strongly holds the audience’s attention all the way to the end.

One of the standout actors is Hossan Leong who plays Miss Prism and adds just the perfect amount of physical comedy and subtlety to his performance, even when the spotlight isn’t on him, to make his presence even more enticing.

The set, painted in black and white, is designed by Ivan Heng and is simple but yet effective. The painted screens are mirrored on one side and when turned, reflect the environment to make the staging area appear bigger and grander, which benefits and even strengthens the final act of the play when all the farfetched truths are revealed.

With an all male cast, the female roles are also played by men, an ingenious gender-bender technique employed by Goei that adds more lustre and excitement to a play most of us have seen many times before.

With good acting, and great direction, Wild Rice’s version of The Importance of Being Earnest is alluring and unique, and if you’re after a good time at the theatre, do make an earnest attempt to catch this performance.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.