REVIEW: The Importance of Being Earnest (Jack Studio Theatre) ★★★

The theatre above the Brockley Jack pub (actually closest to Crofton Park station) is a small but appealing space, involving the audience in the action with seating along the sides of the stage itself as well as raised in front. This has been put to good use for this production with a simple but striking set – a chequerboard floor, and a huge calling card for the titular Mr ‘Ernest’ Worthing, are set against a simple table and chairs, which moves us from city parlour to country garden as the play unfolds. It feel stylish and looks great.

The classic Oscar Wilde script is played closely to the film production and Daniel Hall as Algie / Ernest does a quality job of the fast paced dialogue and cut glass accent, with confident support from Russell Howard alike Riley Jones as Ernest / Jack. Niece is played with boundless enthusiasm by Emily-Rose Clarkson and the audience immediately warm to her on her arrival after the interval. The other female parts are perhaps not as strongly played, the comedy timing the play requires from Lady Bracknell is a little out and the eagerly awaited outcry of ‘a handbag!’ falls flatter that expected and is an unfortunate miss.

The standout performance comes from the butler whose presence is felt even before the imaginary curtain rises. He engages us all with his expressive face, his accent which journeys north as his role alters and his perfectly timed ukelele accompanying poignant singing – Daniel Desiano-Plummer shines..

Overall, this is a lovely performance in a cosy venue; it could have been a little more effective as a shorter piece without an interval and it felt a little ‘am dram’ at times but the audience had a thoroughly jolly evening and were sent off with a smile.

Reviewed by Ana von Dienstag