WITH a pre performance soundtrack that includes songs by Kylie and ABC and a silver chrome table and chairs, you’re in no doubt you’re about to experience a very different version of this masterpiece of a play.
Director Nick Sample’s decision to transport this exquisitely crafted comedy to the Internet age works. And it works spectacularly well.
Previous productions have irritated me and while there were obviously Wilde’s witticisms to enjoy, I always found it hard to like this menagerie of irritating, entitled upper class twits.
But, thanks to Sample’s skill and ingenuity he manages to make me like them and actually enjoy spending time in the company of the scheming Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing.
It would be unjust to let Sample take all the credit though as the entire company displays a sense of timing that would sit very well on a professional stage.
Chris Shoop-Worall and Jamie Sloan are an engaging and natural double act as Moncrieff and Worthing, as they deftly try to catch the objects of their affections.
Antonia Whitehead is a formidable Gwendolen Fairfax, who has her sights well and truly set on Jack, for a reason I refuse to divulge to those who may be unfamiliar with the play and there’s a memorable spat between her and Cecily Cardew, played by Lauren Robinson, after a classic misunderstanding.
There are some social references that obviously date the play. Cecily, for instance has a governess played by Sarat Broughton who gives her best performance at this theatre to date for me as the awkward, uptight Miss Prism and there’s a memorable scene with her and Adrian Grace as the lovable, old school cleric the Rev Frederick Chasuble.
Wilde also uses his genius to send up the class system and the way it gives the upper classes carte blanche to behave as they like.
If the cast serves us up a treat, so does Barry Purves with a clever, eye catching set. A production to really go Wilde about – this is the Garrick’s best comedy of the season for me.
Until January 21. The box office is on 0161 928 1677 or you can book online at www.altrinchamgarrick.co.uk.
Star rating – *****
Number 9 – Matthew Dougall
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