The Importance of Being Earnest

Tues 22nd - Sat 26th May 2012

Director: Olly Medlicott

Roehampton University Theatre
Digby Stuart Drive

, Roehampton University

Roehampton Lane

SW15 5PU

Read the NODA review here


At the opening of the play, two friends, Earnest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, are discussing the benefits of social deception. Earnest confesses that, when in the country, he is Jack Worthing, a respectable and serious man who has the misfortune of having a younger brother named Earnest who is something of a libertine. Thus he is able to assume the identity of his non-existent brother when he wishes to enjoy the delights of life in the city.

Algernon, meanwhile, confides that he has a fictional relative living in the country, an invalid named Bunbury, whom he is obliged to visit whenever he needs to avoid an odious social obligation. Jack has come to visit Algernon in order to propose to his cousin Gwendolen, but the arrival of Gwendolen is complicated by the fact that she is accompanied by her formidable aunt, Lady Bracknell. Whilst Algernon distracts her chaperone, Jack manages to make the proposal, but is somewhat perturbed by the fact that Gwendolen seems to have accepted largely because he has the name Earnest. He resolves to have himself re-christened by the local Canon, Chasuble, as soon as possible.

But the two are discovered by Lady Bracknell, who is horrified to discover Jack was adopted after being discovered in a handbag at Victoria station, and she forbids all further contact between the two of them. Algernon, meanwhile, has discovered that Jack has a wealthy ward named Cicely. Without Jack’s consent, he goes to his house and, pretending to be the errant younger brother Earnest, he soon succeeds in charming Cicely despite the presence of her frosty governess, Miss Prism. In an effort to put his double life behind him, Jack then arrives in full mourning dress, announcing the death of his younger brother, a claim somewhat complicated by the presence of Algernon in the guise of Earnest.

The arrival of Gwendolen further complicates events, as the two young women, who initially meet alone, are both indignantly certain that they are engaged to Earnest. When Algernon and Jack reappear, their deceptions are exposed, but before matters can be resolved Lady Bracknell arrives. Her initial displeasure at the discovery that Algernon and Cicely are engaged is dispelled when she discovers how wealthy the young lady is, but a stalemate ensues when Jack refuses consent for the marriage of his ward to Algernon unless Lady Bracknell allows him to marry Gwendolen.

Amidst the confusion, Lady Bracknell suddenly recognises Miss Prism as the family governess who, twenty-eight years earlier, took a baby boy for a walk in a perambulator and never returned. Miss Prism reveals that she lost the boy when, in a moment of abstraction, she accidentally put him into a handbag and left him at Victoria station. Jack still has the handbag he was found in as a boy, and as his identity as Algernon’s long-lost brother is proven, no objection remains on the part of Lady Bracknell as to his suitability as a husband for Gwendolen. She herself, however, stubbornly insists that she will only marry a man who bears the name Earnest. A breathless hunt through the family archives ensues, until the happy discovery that Jack’s real name is, indeed, Earnest.


Algernon - Mark Smith
Lane - Oliver Samson
Jack/Ernest - Alan Reiss
Gwendolen - Flo Nash
Lady Bracknell - Alison Walters
Miss Prism - Laura Harrison
Cecily - Holly Manning


All photos of this production were taken by Jonathon Vines


Show Reviews

"Aimee Parnell is to be congratulated as Director for this wonderful piece of theatre. Attention to detail was precise, the movement of props during the musical numbers was effortless and the overall pace was terrific."

"Kim Schenkelaars deserves huge credit as Choreographer and for including so much energy and variety into the dance routines.... the choreography was fabulous and really added to the show’s appeal."

"Glen Jordan portrayed Moritz ... with just the right amount of teenage angst Glen’s emotional acting of his songs showed a total understanding of what he was portraying."

"Josh Yard and Laura Harrison both did exceptionally well in playing every adult part and for delivering some chilling moments together with humour and even sensitivity. Their scenes as grieving parents were extremely well handled and all their various characters carefully reflected general attitudes of the time period."

Des Wilby
NODA Review

"I was impressed at the strength of the cast across the board. Matthew Wright played Melchior opposite Veronique Piercy’s Wendla. Wright’s self assurance contrasted nicely against Piercy’s youthful innocence. Piercy opened the show with ‘Mama Who Bore Me,’ and her assured clear tone set the bar high for the rest of the night."

"The music was also beautifully delivered with Harriet Oughton at the helm. They mastered the score from the rocky aggressive numbers which really packed a punch to the beautifully balanced and harmony rich numbers"

"It is shows like that that help blur the line between amateur and professional theatre."

Sarah McPartlan
Musical Theatre Musings Review

"Phoebe Fleetham must first and foremost be congratulated for her role as Director and ensuring this production was slick, highly polished and a resounding success."

"Keith Walters, Rosie Orchard, Joanne Frazer and Paul Nicholas Dyke provided the principal ‘line up’ for this show and it was impossible to fault their performances in anyway. Virtually on stage throughout the entire production, I was hugely impressed with the characterisation of each principal, their consistent accents and vocal ranges. They were nothing short of superb."

"Will Prescott (1st Man) and Russell Hughes (2nd Man) provided additional light relief and certainly worked well together. Carefully maintaining their accents and characters throughout, their standout moment came in their duet ‘Brush Up You Shakespeare’."

Des Wilby
NODA Review

"The highlight of the show for me had to be the opening of Act 2 with ‘Too Darn Hot.’ Vicki Rice, the choreographer had devised a number that all of the cast could execute with real flair and a huge amount of energy and had clearly drilled them repeatedly. This resulted in a real feast for the eyes and ears."

"I must congratulate Cygnet Players on a high standard of production; with a sizzling production number, leads that oozed their characters and a wonderful orchestra this is a great show to see if you love the golden age musicals."

Sarah McPartlan
Musical Theatre Musings

"Zoe Dobell brought her directing experience to this production and is to be congratulated for a hugely successful show. This was a classy performance delivered to a high standard by a quality cast. The attention to detail throughout ensured everything ran like clockwork." 

"The three leads were quite simply exemplary, and carried the show with great confidence. Andrew Overin, as Franklin Shepard, is both a great singer and a consummate actor.  Andrew was more than ably matched by Adam Walker-Galbraith as Charley Kringas and Olga-Marie Pratt as Mary Flynn. Most of the songs are narrative and required considerable acting skills as well as emotional delivery to get them across. It was soon apparent that in the hands of these three it was never going to be a problem. Together they owned the stage and held the audience’s attention perfectly."

"This show proved to be yet another excellent production.  I am quite certain that the entire audience, like me, left feeling hugely impressed with the quality of this cast and Cygnet Players in general."

Des Wilby
NODA Review

"I watched the show with a composer, arranger, conductor and sometime performer of Sondheim musicals. He and I were blown away."

"The show takes off with the television interview scene in which Charley Kringus lets rip at Franklin in the number named after him. The audience were close to a standing ovation as Adam Walker-Galbraith (and the orchestra) concluded this spectacularly complex piece of musical dexterity."

"Russell Bramley does an excellent job of building his Joe Josephson character backwards from a broken cuckolded man to confident impresario. Russell notes in the programme that he fell in love with this show when it played at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013. I would be surprised if this Cygnet performance does not at least equal the 2013 show."

Frank Kaye
Sardines Review

"This was quite simply an exceptional show that oozed class and quality throughout."

"The quality of the band, and music produced, was of a very high class and never overshadowed those speaking or singing."

"Kim Findlay (Choreographer) ensured this show delivered what was expected – a truly stunning visual spectacle from a 17-strong tap dancing ensemble. The quality of dancing, precision and timing were nothing short of superb."

"The extremely versatile, and talented, Nick Moorhouse was perfectly cast in the lead male role of Jerry Travers. The sheer quality of dancing, whilst singing, was exceptional and appeared almost effortless."

Des Wilby
NODA Review

"Charlotte Donald, who I have seen tread the boards many times for Cygnet Players, was Dale Tremont. This is possibly my favourite role I have seen her in as it really showed off her dance ability and as that famous line goes, she did it all backwards and in heels!"

"Adam Walker-Galbraith verges on stealing the show as the hilarious Beddini. His attention to detail in his character ensured that he ensured every moment he was on stage was pure comedy."

"Top Hat is a show Cygnet Players should be proud of. With polished dance, strong principals and ensemble and an impressive set works together to create an enjoyable and impressive show."

Sarah McPartlan
Musical Theatre Musings Review

"Huge congratulations must go to Adam Walker-Galbraith on his musical directing debut and for delivering such a resounding success. The non-stop action, and overall pace, ensured the audience was immediately involved in, and remained enthralled throughout, the entire show. As musical directing debuts go, this was a fantastic achievement and something to look back on with pride."

"Congratulations must also be given to Lauren O’Mara who choreographed this show superbly."

"Jamie Miller-Hughes was truly fantastic in the hugely demanding role of Doralee. Not only did Jamie look, and act, the part of a country girl but she sang beautifully and had a terrific Southern accent."

"Kate Chesworth excelled as Violet, the long suffering supervisor who’d been repeatedly passed over for promotion in a male-dominated office environment. Kate’s acting and singing were both superb and I particularly enjoyed ‘Around Here’, where she introduced Judy to Consolidated Industries’ lengthy list of high expectations."

"This truly was an excellent performance, a very enjoyable afternoon’s entertainment, and most definitely ‘value for money’ in anyone’s eyes."

Des Wilby
Noda Review

"Cygnet Players is fortunate to have a formidable trio of women take on (the lead) roles. The moments where these 3 women were on stage fronting a number were consistently high standard and really stood out."

"Charlotte Donald ... had a nice vulnerability and awkwardness about her and knew how to time her comedy well. Her big number 'Get Out and Stay Out' deservedly drew cheers from the audience."

Sarah McPartlan
Musical Theatre Musings Review


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