“A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”
By Margaret Wieringa
How can a farce from the late 1800s be relevant over two hundred years later? Perhaps because politics and society seem to be as farcical as ever, with world leaders shunning education and humanity and instead using confounding language to say very little. Or perhaps it’s just that we need a break from it all and to really laugh.
If it’s a laugh you need, this is certainly the show to go to. This interpretation of the Importance of Being Earnest by Ridiculusmus has the magnificent talents of Jon Hayes and David Woods playing all of the characters. Being the work of Oscar Wilde, comedy is in almost every line, but Hayes and Woods manage to elicit humour even from the silences. Each costume change brings titters of laughter from the audience, as much from the action itself as the anticipation of what is coming next. The timing is perfect, starting with long pauses filled with slight movements as we wait for a character to reappear, and then moving to fast-paced, frenetic changes as the play reaches its climax.
Even the set was humorous, with every surface (including the leaves of an indoor plant) covered with busy wallpaper and Persian rugs. While the magnificent costumes were practically characters of themselves, the set was used delightfully for the performers to do some of the more complex character changes.
The show plays with the concept of theatre itself, with the actors using remote controls and the like for sound and lighting cues (supported by lighting designer Stephen Hawker and sound realiser Tom Backhaus). They play with conventions, use modern music to add humour to scenes, and enjoy letting the audience in on the joke when things start to go off the rails.
Perhaps the greatest joy of the show is that the audience feels as though they have joined the actors on a magnificent journey and reach the end victorious and fulfilled.
Venue: Malthouse Theatre
Dates: 14 Feb – 8 March
Time: Varies between 5pm and 7:30pm starts
Bookings: https://tickets.malthousetheatre.com.au/production/5676 or call the box office on 9685 5111
Photography by Pia Johnson