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Review | The Importance of Being Earnest | Royal Exchange Theatre | 19/06/2024

The Importance of Being Earnest is one of those classics which is seemingly always being staged  somewhere at any given time. However, 129 years after its debut and under the direction of Josh Roche, Royal Exchange Theatre have brought it bang up to date for the closing show of their Spring/Summer 2024 season.

With just minor updates to the script, it has instead been modernised in its direction and staging. Rather than the grand and ostentatious furniture of yesteryear, we find ourselves in a sleek and and minimalistic living, room more in line with many peoples aspirations in the 21st century. Framing the stage is a sea of fluffy pink beanbags, presenting an almost dreamlike state, a clear connotation for the characters disconnect from reality.

We meet hopelessly rich friends Algernon (Parth Thakerar) and Jack (Robin Morrissey). Both have concocted stories to allow them to escape their daily lives whenever they wish, inevitably getting out of hand as the show goes on. The pair are the perfect comedy duo and are a joy to watch.

It is as funny now as it has always been. From implied humour through characterisations to more slapstick moments where a food fight breaks out with baked goods being slung across the audience, this show is an absolute hoot. Local Cheshire references in particular go down a storm with the northern crowd.

Rumi Sutton plays Cecily as being social media obsessed, which helps the show feel current, fresh and relatable. Along with Phoebe Pryce as Gwendolen, they poke fun at how superficial some people can be when it comes to choosing a suitor. The shows standout however is the incomparable Abigail Cruttenden as Lady Bracknell. Her arrogance juxtaposed against her desperate desire to keep her place in society makes for hilarious viewing. Cruttenden has a very real take on the character, allowing audience members to see people they know in her, which only adds to the hilarity.

Packing one hell of a comedic punch, this modern take on the beloved classic is the jewel in the crown for Royal Exchange's Spring/Summer Season. 'The Importance of Being Earnest' plays at Royal Exchange Theatre until Saturday 20 July 2024.

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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