Review: The Importance of Being Earnest, Harold Pinter Theatre

A very enjoyable evening. I almost booked when I first saw cheap seats but reviews were mixed. Then I got a bargain seat on a miserable Bank Holiday Monday – I’ve never seen the West End so deserted – and I’m glad I did. The cast are excellent but far too old for the play, so Simon Brett has added some material about the annual production by the Bunbury Players. Martin Jarvis and Nigel Havers reprieve the parts they played at the National Theatre in 1982. Add Sian Phillips, Cherie Lunghi and Rosalind Ayres and it’s quite a cast. Once they get down to the play itself, they are perfect and you quickly forget their ages and the audience, me included, was soon laughing away. It’s hardly surprising that the additional material does not match the brilliance of Oscar Wilde’s but I think they could have worked on it a bit harder. The extension of the cucumber sandwich humour was perfect but we could have done without the cheap ladder joke. The second half drops the framework; it’s  pure Wilde and pure joy. I think I enjoyed it almost as much as the actors clearly loved acting it.

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