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Ernest - Now I Get the Importance!

L-R:Benjamin May as Algernon, Gin Niemtus as Cecily, Edward Loboda as Jack and Catherine Grimhilde as Gwendolen. Photo courtesy of Sweet Sorrow Theatre Company.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. A Sweet Sorrow Theatre Company production, at the Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 20 – 22 March at 7.30pm and 23 March at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Review by Ann Evans


I wonder if anyone else agrees with me that sometimes you have to see a number of a playwright’s works before you really appreciate their genius. I’ve seen The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde on a couple of occasions – some years ago, and I have only vague memories of the characters or what the play was really about!

(Front): Skye Witney as Lady Bracknell; (back) Edward Loboda as Jack Worthing and Catherine Grimhilde as Gwendolen. Photo courtesy of Sweet Sorrow Theatre.

However, after seeing the excellent presentation of Sweet Sorrow Theatre Company’s rendition of this play, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the wit of Oscar Wilde the writer; understood and appreciated the satire and basically the mickey-taking of the stuffy Victorian high society that Wilde was poking fun at and loved the clarity of the characters. Each one portraying a clear-cut and memorable individual with a big personality.

Butler Josh Caldicott in rehearsals, showing his own personality - not the stuffy Butler Merrimen! Photo courtesy of Sweet Sorrow Theatre.

Some were wonderfully deliberately stuffy such as Lady Bracknell (Skye Witney) and the two butlers, Lane and Merriment - both played by Josh Caldicott. Actor Edward Loboda was wonderfully prim and proper as Jack Worthing – the perfect gentleman – if you ignored the web of lies that he spun! And Benjamin May as Algernon Moncrieff, a real mischievous, fun-loving – and fun character, who bowed down to no one - but who also didn't mind telling the odd fib or two at times.

Cecily and Algernon in rehearsals. Photo courtesy of Sweet Sorrow Theatre.

Between this pair, their lies land them in hot water, and almost wreck their budding romances. Jack wants to marry the equally prim and proper (or so we’re led to believe!) Gwendolen Fairfax and Algernon falls for Cecily Cardew (Gin Niemtus) who is equally as wily and adept at getting her own way as Algernon is. Two equally matched couples for sure! 

Gin Niemtus as Cecily and Skye Witney as Lady Bracknell. Photo courtesy of Sweet Sorrow Theatre.

However, there are a stack of problems to overcome, most of which revolve around the fearsome Lady Bracknell who is totally believable as a high society Victorian lady, who is used to ordering people around and eating cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, made by a lesser mortal than herself, obviously! Good performances too by Cassandra Wilson as Miss Prism who has her eyes set on the local vicar, Dr. Chasuble (Nicky Cheung) who in turn is very receptive to the idea.

Abigail Haldem directed the play and also did an excellent job in creating the sets which clearly established the era, and was also in charge of the authentic-looking costumes – Lady Bracknell's equally fearsome hat for instance!

Edward Loboda as Jack Worthing and Catherine Grimhilde as Gwendolen Fairfax. Photo courtesy of Sweet Sorrow Theatre.

Assistant Director and Stage Manager is Rosie Pickering, the Producer is Edward Loboda and Technical Operator is Aoife O’Rourke. And well done to all the team who make every visit to The Bear Pit so enjoyable.

So, a thoroughly enjoyable experience of The Importance of Being Earnest – and now after seeing the Sweet Sorrow Theatre’s production, I can happily say that I do now understand the importance of being Earnest. Apologies to everyone else in the audience who is well versed in the works of Oscar Wilde!

For details about Sweet Sorrow Theatre Company:

For details of forthcoming shows at The Bear Pit Theatre:


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