Isabella Beutel asGwendolen Fairfax, Raymond Sinnamon as John Worthing JP , Sherry Barnes as Lady Bracknell. Photo: Paul Beutel.
Isabella Beutel asGwendolen Fairfax, Raymond Sinnamon as John Worthing JP , Sherry Barnes as Lady Bracknell. Photo: Paul Beutel. contributed

Play unpicks the tapestry of life

AT A quick glance, the fabric of society appears to have changed remarkably since 1895, but as the cast and crew of The Importance Of Being Earnest unpick the rich tapestry of life, it appears little differs from 122 years ago.

Through the skilled direction of Cheryl Ratcliffe, Oscar Wilde's words resonate once again to show some of the social issues of late Victorian London are still faced in 2017.

As Algernon Moncrieff, played by Hervey Bay's John Grimanes, and John Worthing, played by Bundaberg's Raymond Sinnamon, discuss the looming end of Ernest's bachelor life, it is not hard to imagine modern-day men doing the same thing - just over social media, not in-person in a classy townhouse.

John Grimanes as Algernon Moncrieff and Shanyn Limpus as Cecily Cardew.
John Grimanes as Algernon Moncrieff and Shanyn Limpus as Cecily Cardew. contributed

Gwedolen Fairfax, played by Isabella Beutel, is the object of Worthing's affection, and through the actors' performances the warmth between them is portrayed wonderfully.

The pair have fallen in love and intend to marry, but it looks like the mysterious status of Mr Worthing's past may not be good enough for the family of Miss Fairfax.

As it is in relationships of now, some of the players know the full story while others do not, and this is where the entertainment comes from in this great local production.

Raymond Sinnamon as John Worthing JP and Isabella Beutel as Hon Gwendolen Fairfax. Photo Contributed: Paul Beutel.
Raymond Sinnamon as John Worthing JP and Isabella Beutel as Hon Gwendolen Fairfax. Photo Contributed: Paul Beutel. contributed

Adding to the strength of Mr Moncrieff, Mr Worthing and Miss Fairfax's performances, was the way Sherry Barnes expertly served up a more than adequate helping of disdain for the others on stage in the role of Lady Bracknell.

For its time, the play's melodramatic style took aim at the society's self-righteousness and deep-seated hypocrisy.

But now it subtlety highlights the way people interact with each other using modern technology.

John Grimanes as Algernon Moncrieff and Shanyn Limpus as Cecily Cardew.
John Grimanes as Algernon Moncrieff and Shanyn Limpus as Cecily Cardew. contributed

To add to the farce of Mr Worthing's and Miss Fairfax's relationship, was the introduction of Shanyn Limpus's performance as Cecily Cardew.

Miss Cardew is the ward of Mr Worthing and through interference from Mr Moncrieff, it looked like love had been lost for two of the leading characters.

As Miss Cardew documents her life in her diary, it is not a stretch to picture teenagers pouring their emotions on to Facebook or Instagram, and although the play was written more than a century ago, little was lost from Wilde's intentions by the excellent performance on stage.

Isabella Beutel as Hon Gwendolen Fairfax and Raymond Sinnamon as John Worthing JP. Photo Contributed: Paul Beutel.
Isabella Beutel as Hon Gwendolen Fairfax and Raymond Sinnamon as John Worthing JP. Photo Contributed: Paul Beutel. contributed

Mr Worthing endeavours to have his relationship go as smoothly as possible, however with Mr Moncrieff's arrival in the final acts, matters are complicated immensely - and the laughs follow.

The performances of Bundaberg's Graham Lister (Rev Canon Chasuble DD), Trish Mears (Miss Prism), Phillip Fresta (Merriam) and Rob Rumpf (Lane), enhance those of the leading lights.

And the liberties taken in direction by Ms Ratcliffe show the indulgences of the time, while highlighting the similar excesses in modern society.

There are four performances of The Importance Of Being Earnest left at the Playhouse Theatre on Steffensen St. Today at 7.30pm, a matinee tomorrow at 3pm, and two final performances on March 17 and 18 at 7.30pm.



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