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

"Jamie Miller-Hughes brought both her acting experience, and first-hand knowledge of All Shook Up, to the roles of Director/Producer. Attention to detail was obviously stressed as the end product was both precise and polished. The entire show ran smoothly and the full house witnessed a superb show."

"Kim Schenkelaars (Choreographer) and Aoife Considine (Assistant Choreographer) combined to ensure a huge amount of pace and energy in all dance routines."

"Barry Lattimore-Quinn took on the hugely demanding role of Chad. Barry’s dancing skills and athletic movement were perfect for this high-energy role and character. Overall, Barry delivered an excellent performance."

"Jessica Laing gave a superb performance as Natalie/Ed. Jessica has a fabulous singing voice, which was repeatedly demonstrated throughout the show, together with maturity, apparent ease and great humour. A fabulous all-round performance."

"Alex Blackie demonstrated his fine character acting as ‘nerdish’ Dennis. Alex’s general awkwardness, diction and facial expressions were great and his singing skills came to the fore in the wonderful solo 'It Hurts Me'."

Des Wilby
NODA Review

"Threatening to steal the show with her vocals was Harriet Ruby as Sylvia. Ruby had a brilliantly strong belt who knew how to use it and also knew when the song needed a more tender treatment."

"In all of the big ensemble numbers the harmonies were spot on and sounded really full. I can tell that M.D Michael Searle would have worked really hard with the cast to get that sound."

Sarah McPartlan
Musical Theatre Musings Review


"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

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