The year 1895 saw the premiere of Oscar Wilde’s most popular work: ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. It would be his last success in life, as just 15 months later, he would be sentenced to two years hard labour on account of his moral failings.
Wilde was the champion of wit and master of the paradox; his ability to manipulate language into music is such that few have ever come close to since. The play was written as a satire wrapped up in the brightly-coloured garments of light evening entertainment. And as such, the Copenhagen Theatre Circle (CTC) and director Jens Blegaa have done an admirable job.
On the whole, the play is a success, with the stage direction and design a particular high point. The set looked believable and charming thanks to a particularly pleasing Honoré Daumier print hanging over the fireplace.
The play transitioned well between act one, set at a London town house, to act two at a garden in the countryside. By utilising the very honest manner of simply transforming the space right in front of the audience, Blegaa managed to not only solve the limited space Krudttønden allows for, but also to inspire laughs in the process.
There were two stars of the show, and they were both female. Claire Clausen’s depiction of the meddling matriarch Lady Bracknell was expressive and captivating as her voice filled the space with authority. While Katrina Marshall’s role as the cherubic, wholeheartedly ignorant Cecily Cardew was spot on, denoting all the necessary characteristics of a guileless Victorian woman coming of age. Both Clausen and Marshall managed to summon up the all-important, earnest seriousness about all things trivial.
The low points, although few, were still present. First and foremost, the audibility of some of the cast was problematic. It is always a pity when a good performance is affected by problems of hearing. And some of the delivery was a little off-key: more Hurdy Gurdy than Joan Greenwood.
Wilde’s career and life were cut short on account of disgrace, but you will find no disgrace in the CTC’s version of the age old classic. All in all, the performance is solid and enjoyable. If we were to paraphrase the playwright, we might say that there are only two ways to treat a play: see it if it’s good, and see another if it’s not. This performance is positively an example of the first.
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest will continue playing at Krudttønden theatre in Østerbro until Saturday. For tickets, visit www.ctcircle.dk.