The Importance of Being Earnest

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Featured, Reviews

New Wolsey Theatre

An Oscar Wilde play I’ve always wanted to see and how fortunate I am that my first experience was with the English Touring Theatre (ETT) at the New Wolsey Theatre. A brilliant silly comedy performed by an absolutely superb cast.

Set in the 1890s in London two friends use pseudonyms in order to live fancy-free lifestyles away from Victorian societal expectations. For a while it’s fun and they enjoy their time, however it gets more complex as love enters the equation.

Mr Worthington wants to propose to Gwendolen, but she only knows him as Earnest and although she says yes, she reveals she’s always planned to marry a man called ‘Earnest’ and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Algernon, pretends to be ‘Earnest’ as he goes to visit Mr Worthington’s ward Cecily as he’s heard so much about her. He falls in love and wants to propose to her and she reveals she too always planned to marry a man called ‘Earnest’ and wouldn’t have it any other way! Gwendolen and Cecily meet and although become instant friends, they soon discover they are both engaged to ‘Earnest’.

The above is a tiny snippet of the story line to give you a feel of the potential hilarity that can ensue from this, there is much more to the plot however I do not have the word count to go for all the twists and turns this play takes you through, just know it’s a great play.

The performance is what is key here. All eight actors were fantastic. The very first scene as they were non-verbally introduced to us in a sequence of movement captured our attention. There was charisma oozing from all of them, as a whole and as individuals. I’m not sure I’ve experienced that before. The farcical nature of the play allowed the actors to be both serious and comical, the levels of comedy were deep, subtle and laugh out loud funny. There are many giggle inducing moments throughout and each actor portrayed their witty parts naturally.

Two of the actors, Phoebe Campbell and Abiola Owokoniran have this play as their first professional debut and they were both incredible. Phoebe was delightful. Yet, don’t let that detract from the others, as they were all equally talented, engaging and so pleasurable to watch. We were also very lucky to have Vinegar Strokes who played Lady Bracknell impeccably.

The Victorian costumes were high quality, the scenery was clever, showing internal scenes and with lighting to make the walls translucent, we were in the garden. Simple and very effective.

This performance was Directed by Denzel Westley-Sanderson and one of the things he wanted audiences to take away is prompting conversation and curiosity about rich Black Victorians.


  • Justice Ritchie as John Worthington
  • Abiola Owokoniran as Algernon Metcalf
  • Anita Reynolds as Dr Chasuble
  • Valentine Hanson as Merriman/Lane
  • Adele James as Gwendolen
  • Phoebe Campbell as Cecily
  • Joanne Henry as Miss Prism
  • Daniel Jacob (aka Vinegar Strokes) as Lady Bracknell

This is a highly-recommended play and performance – an utter joy to watch.

Click for listings at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich



  • Hayley Clapperton

    Hayley is a business co-owner working too many hours so it's a good job she's passionate about it. Hayley's down time is music, music and music of all types and she enjoys going to gigs, listening to new bands and breathing in the energy it creates.

    View all posts