Oscar Wilde’s brilliant comedy about double lives, friendship and discovering who you really are is brought to life in a vibrant new Theatr Clwyd production in Mold.
The Importance of Being Earnest was written during the latter part of 1894 and opened in London on St Valentine’s Day the following year.
The first night audience included the writers HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Since then it has received hundreds of professional productions, becoming a much-loved classic of the British stage, with the part of Lady Bracknell one of its most treasured comic roles.
Oscar Wilde was an Irish-born novelist, poet and playwright, renowned for his charm and charisma and revered for his outrageous intelligence and dazzling wit.
His work includes the novels The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and the plays Lady Windermere’s Fan and An Ideal Husband.
Following a scandal concerning his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the Marquess of Queensberry, Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour in Reading jail. Following his release he was hounded into exile in France, where he died of meningitis in November 1900 at the age of 46.
Rising star director Richard Fitch makes his Theatr Clwyd debut with the production. The 2010 recipient of the Sir Paul McCartney Human Spirit Award, he trained at LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) and the Young Vic.
His directing credits include the UK tour of the hit West End production of Funny Girl, 24 Hour Plays at The Old Vic and Land’s End at Birmingham Rep.
Richard said: “The Importance of Being Earnest is a spectacularly clever exploration of true and false love for others, as well as what it means to love oneself. It has been a play of interest to me for quite some time and it is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to approach the play from the angle of young, naive lovers who are relatable to a 2017 audience, whilst honouring the attitudes of courtship and the class system of 1895.
“This production of Oscar Wilde’s timeless classic showcases the passionate work of incredible on and off stage collaborators from both Theatr Clwyd and beyond, and I could not be prouder to tell this story with the brightest minds, exercising the sharpest wit and a little bit of cheekiness too!”
Hilary Maclean plays Lady Bracknell. She is a familiar face on TV, with recent appearances including Torchwood, Casualty and the ITV mini-series Arthur and George. On radio she appeared in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series Secrets and Lattes.
Hilary’s recent stage work includes Dirty Dancing in the West End and Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Poor Superman at The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
Melanie Walters, who played Stacey’s mum Gwen West in three series of the BBC TV comedy Gavin and Stacey, plays Miss Prism. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Melanie was brought up in Mumbles, Swansea and has spent most of her professional life touring the UK, working in theatre, film and television, where she also appeared in Doc Martin, the BBC’s Under Milk Wood and Stella. Her recent films include the family drama High Tide in 2015.
Gwen’s stage work includes Before I Leave and The Iliad for National Theatre Wales and the Theatr Clwyd production of Blue Remembered Hills.
Matt Jessup plays Jack Worthing. He recently appeared on stage in The Railway Children at King’s Cross Theatre, London, Love for Love at Bristol Old Vic and Timon of Athens at The National Theatre. He trained in Bristol and is a former winner the Society of London Theatre’s Laurence Olivier Bursary Award.
Darren Lawrence returns to Theatr Clwyd to play Rev Chasuble. He last appeared with the company in Season’s Greetings by Alan Ayckbourn in 2013. His other theatre work includes That Day We Sang and A Thousand Slimy Things at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and The Village Social and The Passion for National Theatre Wales.
The company also includes LIPA graduate James Backway as Algernon Moncrieff, Robyn Cara as Cecily Cardew, Emma Denly as Gwendolen Fairfax and Nick Harris as Merriman, all of whom make their Theatr Clwyd debuts in this new production.
The Importance of Being Earnest can be seen in the Anthony Hopkins Theatre from May 4-27. Call 01352 701521 or visit www.theatrclwyd.com.