This article was originally published on PRODIJEE.COM
London, ENGLAND: Last week I was blessed to go to the West End Premier of The Importance of Being Earnest by Stanhope Productions. It was a frolicking affair with celebrity’s dotted all round and theatrical talent abundant. One gentleman was even sporting a green carnation in his breast pocket, a humble nod to the ever-great and wondrous talents of Mr Wilde.
This production sees the talented David Suchet play the part of Lady Bracknell, a refreshing and exciting move. Recent productions have been somewhat lacklustre, but this one… this one is fast paced, utterly hysterical and a must for any theatre lover. The entire cast performs flawlessly bringing new, fresh life to the incredible beauty of Oscar Wildes work.
Suchets performance however isn’t that of a man in drag playing for laughs, but actually a man playing the role of a woman of a ‘certain age’. He gives the role humility, an edge and heightens this stuffy, aristocratic world in which these characters exist. He has effortlessly thrown to the wind what is regarded as the ‘NORM’ when it comes to gender roles in the theatre, much as Colour Blind Casting exists perhaps it is time to let Gender Neutral casting rise forth. Who is to say that Judi Dench and Helen Mirren couldn’t give superior, gruff and enlightening performances as Vladimir & Estragon in Beckets Waiting for Godot!
If you were lucky enough to see Michael Ball play the role of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray then you know how much heart he gave that performance, or perhaps Bertie Carvel as the formidable and utterly terrifying Miss Trunchbull… Iconic performances of women played by incredibly talented men. Just like Suchet as Bracknell providing a tour-de-force performance with extreme acidity it shall be up there with the greats for his portrayal
He however is not alone in his talents; he is surrounded on stage by absolutely outstanding performances by all. The innocent and purely youthful part of Cecily Cardew is performed by Imogen Doel who provides constant amusement and enduring naivety. The young lovers Gwendolen Fairfax and John (Jack) Worthing played by Emily Barber and Michael Denz have such an attractive nature that the sexual chemistry is positively pouring from the stage at every given moment. Every actor on stage plays their role beautifully, and among the calamity and stress that surround each of them it is a joy to watch.
The Importance of Being Earnest runs at the Vaudeville Theatre, London until November 7, 2015.