It was wonderful to see the Ellis Theatre burst back to life triumphantly last week in a vivacious and side-splitting production of Oscar Wilde’s roaring social comedy The Importance of Being Earnest.
The tightly woven cast and crew of pupils embraced the mannered artifice of Wilde’s effusive style with conviction and consummate professionalism, giving us a wide range of outstanding performances. A mastery of the florid language and its rhythm was particularly impressive and helped make the play accessible to all generations of the audience. The faultless physical poise of the ladies and servants was beautifully mocked by the exaggerated gymnastics of the gentlemen and gave a tangible sense of the conflicting qualities of late 19th century society etiquette.
An exquisite set and lighting design worked collaboratively with the sumptuous elegance of the costumes to support the work of the actors and musicians. An outstandingly accomplished string quartet made a precise and carefully choreographed scene-change blend seamlessly with the action creating a moment of reflection amidst the surrounding frolics.
There was no doubt, however, that the night belonged to comedy, and as the final strains of laughter fade away, this production aptly celebrates a glorious return of live theatre to the Marlborough stage.