Review - The Importance of Being Earnest at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Poverty is on the rise, public services are being cut, Brexit means Brexit and plastic is basically trying to destroy the Earth  - so I think we could all do with a bit of '˜Bunburying' right now.

The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest

Although, unlike Algernon Moncreiff from Oscar’s Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, most of us have not got the gall to create a fictitious sick friend called Bunbury, who we can ‘call upon’ whenever we fancy some time out of real life.

While I haven’t got a ‘Bunbury’ (yet), I did the next best thing by escaping to Northampton’s Royal Theatre to watch The Original Theatre Company’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

This timeless Wilde comedy tells the story of Jack and Algernon and, of course, the fictional Earnest.

Both men have secret double lives, which begin to unravel hilariously when they meet the loves of their lives.

Jack wants to marry Algernon’s cousin Gwendoline but first he must convince her mother, Lady Bracknell, of the respectability of his family and his past. Unfortunately, his family consists of a handbag and young ward – Cecily.

When Algernon discovers that Earnest is actually ‘Jack’ he devises a plan to infiltrate Jack’s country life and meet Cecily. Inevitably, it does not go to plan and town and country clash spectacularly!

I really enjoyed this version of the play. The Royal provided the idea venue for this colourful period piece and the actors were all hilarious. You could see they really enjoyed delivering some of Wilde’s most famous and witty quotes.

The ostentatious and brash Algernon has long been one of my favourite Wilde characters and actor Thomas Howes brought him to life beautifully with perfect comic timing. I couldn’t decide whether I was a bit in love with him or just really wanted to be like him – perhaps it was a bit of both.

Peter Sandys–Clarke, was also great as the more straight-laced Jack, and he and Howes made a brilliant double act.

Cecily, played by Lousise Coulthard was equally as comical as Howes, along with was Susan Penhaligon as Miss Prism who’s performance was a master class in character comedy!

The whole performance was a fun escape from the grind of daily life and a welcome reminder that it’s important for all of us to be Earnest from time to time.

The Importance of Being Earnest can be seen until Saturday May 12. For tickets visit