CUE Theatre, 38 Maire St Inglewood, Taranaki

25/07/2019 - 03/08/2019

Production Details


Wilde’s exquisitely scandalous satire on Victorian manners is widely considered one of the funniest plays in the English language – the delightful repartee and hilarious piercing of hypocrisy and pomposity has had theatre-goers rolling the aisles for over a century.

Two young bachelors, Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing  lead double lives to court the attentions of the exquisitely desirable Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew.  The gallants must then grapple with the riotous consequences of their deceptions …  and with the formidable Lady Bracknell. 

Happening simultaneously is the attraction between Governess, Miss Prism and the Rev. Canon Chasuble.  All these happenings have been inconspicuously observed by the Butler. 

CUE Theatre, 38 Maire St Inglewood, Taranaki   
Thursday 25th July – Saturday 3rd August 2019
Evening Shows commence @ 7.30pm
Matinee Performances (Sats & Sun) commence @ 3.00 pm
No shows Mon & Tues.
Phone: 06 756-6204  

Lady Bracknell – Selina Mackie
Algernon Moncreiff – Sonny Deacle
John Worthing – Martin Quicke
Gwendoline Fairfax – Loren Armstrong
Cecily Cardew – Michelle Rawlinson
Miss Prism – Sharren Read
Rev. Canon Chausble – Steve Hobson
The Butler – Laurie Neville 

Theatre ,

Outstanding on all fronts

Review by Taryn Utiger 26th Jul 2019

The latest play to hit the stage in Taranaki has left earnest theatre goers thanking the entertainment gods for such an outstanding show of talent.  

The Importance of Being Earnest is arguably Oscar Wilde’s finest play, and in the hands of director Warren Bates it has moments of being the personification of absolute perfection, to quote the playwright himself.

Bates, who is well known for directing big name musical theatre shows like the Australasian premiere of Sister Act, not to mention Phantom of The Opera and Les Misérables, has turned his hand to the smaller stage and he is an absolute breath of fresh air. 

Bates has stepped onto that smaller stage with total pizzazz, bringing with him a talented team of actors and technicians who know their craft like the back of their hand.

The result is a triumph and one of the best local productions this reviewer has seen in many, many years. The Importance of Being Earnest has most certainly raised the bar and one would hope other local theatre groups take inspiration from this spectacular show.

There is no one thing that makes Earnest so outstanding. Rather it is the care and precise combination of a masterly concept, superb direction, a thoughtful set, clever storytelling conventions, beautiful costuming and a talented team of actors – including some who are professionally trained.

The story follows two young bachelors, Algernon Moncrieff, played by Sonny Deacle, and John Worthing, played by Martin Quicke.

The pair lead double lives to court the attention of the beautiful Gwendolen Fairfax, played by Loren Armstrong, and the equally charming Cecily Cardew, played by Michelle Rawlinson.

Each of those four main actors are well trained and they are outstanding in their roles. They truly are an asset to the local theatre scene. 

Deacle and Quicke are simply magnificent and they play off each other with skill. Their quick-witted verbal altercations are delightful, as is their muffin fight. Both of them nail their characterisation, have impeccable vocal work and set a wonderful pace for the show. 

Armstrong and Rawlinson also make a great pair, and their cat fight turned sisterhood is a joy to watch.

The duo really come to life in the highly entertaining tea and sugar lumps scene. They work together beautifully and their elegant synchronised movements add poetry to the drama.

That scene features Laurie Neville’s wonderful and very shaky Merriman and it is one of the many highlights of the show. In fact, Neville becomes an audience favourite and by the end of the night he merely has to step on the stage to get applause. 

Facial expressions and mannerisms are exceptionally well used in this play by all cast members and Selina Mackie’s scowl as Lady Bracknell is particularly memorable. Her convincing performance is joined by Sharren Read’s Miss Prism and Steve Hobson’s Rev Canon Chausble, and together the trio do a lovely job of supporting the main cast.

Any criticism for this show is merely nitpicking, but opening night nerves do mean a couple of great lines are lost to audience laughter, and one or two accents are not always consistent. As the cast adjust to their run of well-deserved full houses these small wrinkles will be easily ironed out.

Despite those wrinkles, Earnest really is outstanding on all fronts and a lot of what makes it so is the attention to detail.

That detail can be seen in wardrobe designer Gael Carswell’s parade of intricate costumes. From the handmade Victorian bustles and lavish hats, to the checked suits and the suave tails, the costume rack for Earnest is a thing of beauty.

The light peach colours in those costumes bring out the sweet naiveness of Cecily, while brash Lady Bracknell wears deep red velvet and striking navy blues. Algernon’s suits are playful and relaxed in comparison to Jack’s – whose are structured and traditional. Like everything in this show, the details are important and well thought out. 

That level of detail can be seen on the set, and the decision to stage this satirical story of Victorian high society on a simple and stylised stage is a stroke of genius. It allows everything so grand and outrageous to be seen in such perfect contrast to its surroundings.

However, that simple and stylised set is by no means dull. In fact, its black and white storybook qualities and the way the pages are turned are not only highly effective and extremely clever, but they’re an incredibly enjoyable part of the show too.

There are also some very visually pleasing elements in Earnest, including carefully crafted synchronised movement, choral work, striking tableaux and symmetrical staging.

The Importance of Being Earnest really is a must-see show and the director, the cast and the crew should be immensely proud of what they have achieved.

Audience members use words like impressive, outstanding and wonderful on their way out of the theatre on opening night and that in itself is a true testament to this carefully crafted show.

May Taranaki be lucky enough to have many, many more productions like this. We earnestly wait their arrival. 


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