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What could be better than spending an evening at the theatre watching an Oscar Wilde Classic? If your answer is that an evening of Prosecco in the sunshine is more your sort of thing, then outdoor theatre is for you. Picture the scene. You’ve prepared a picnic and put a bottle of fizz on to chill. You grab a comfy camping chair and take the picnic outside to enjoy with friends while watching a fabulous production on an outdoor stage just in front of you. Idyllic. Worcester Theatres brought this performance of The Importance of Being Ernest to the Commandery Gardens in Worcester. It is their 16th year of putting on plays there and it’s safe to say it was a resounding success.
About The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest is a classic Oscar Wilde farce about love and lies. Algernon and Jack are both friends and rivals. Each has woven himself a web of lies, centred around the pseudonym of Ernest.
Unbeknown to each other, they both embark on double lives. Each falls in love with a woman known to the other, both using the pseudonym Ernest. When their two lives collide, their love interests meet each other and understandably believe they are engaged to the same person. An unexpected resolution is reached when characters from their past make an appearance.
The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of errors and deception woven by two characters who can only be described as lovable rogues. They are joined by a small cast of additional characters, all of whom are equally amusing and entertaining. This is a gentle, easy to follow comedy that is ideal for an outdoor theatre setting.
The Cast and Director
- Director: Ian Good
- Jack: Matthew McKenna. Theatre credits include Phantom of the Opera in London and The Rocky Horror Picture Show European Tour.
- Algernon: Will Husbands. Previous credits include Poldark for the BBC and Doc Martin for ITV.
- Gwendolen: Katherine Parker-Jones. Katherine has previously performed at the Commandery gardens in a few roles including as Annie last year inn Round & Round the Garden.
- Cecily: Lauren Anderson Oakley. Previous credits include Ian Good’s adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore.
- Lady Bracknell: Erika Poole. Previous credits include George’s Marvellous Medicine with the Birmingham Stage Company.
- Miss Prism: Dru Stephenson. Theatre credits include The Misanthrope at Malvern Theatres and Round and Round the Garden last year at the Commandery with Worcester Rep.
- Chasuble: Ian Parkin. Founding member of 4 Poofs and a Piano who have entertained us on a couple of occasions at Huntingdon Hall in Worcester. He has multiple television and theatre credits including Peter Pan the Musical in the West End.
- Lane and Merriman: Daniel Somerville. Theatre credits include a stage adaptation of Dad’s Army.
The Importance of Being Earnest Outdoor Theatre: The Verdict
This is the first time I’ve been to an outdoor theatre performance and it is definitely something I will be doing again. The informal atmosphere of being outdoors and enjoying food and drink while watching really added something to the experience.
The play itself is far from stuffy and seemed ideally suited to being performed outdoors. It had a naturally small cast and few set changes were needed to portray the scenes. Characters were seen to walk off out of the Commandery garden when going off stage, which added something. Particularly when they were being portrayed as going on a journey.
All in all, I really don’t see a downside to outdoor theatre. I advise bringing a camping chair and an extra layer for when the temperature drops. Get there early if you want to sit near the front but realistically, there’s a pretty good view from everywhere because the stage is elevated. We were quite near to the back and we could see and hear perfectly well.
The show takes place on 12th to 16th and 19th to 23rd July 2023. There are 7 pm and 3 pm showings available on various dates.
The show takes place at the Commandery Gardens in Worcester (Not at the Swan Theatre)
Tickets are available to purchase on the Worcester Theatres website.
£22 for adults and £8 for under 16s
Around two and a half hours including an interval.
I would say that this show would be better for high school children. Younger ones wouldn’t get much out of it but once they start studying literature and classic plays at school, they are more likely to follow it.
When purchasing tickets for this performance, you buy a flexi ticket. This means that it can be used for any of the performances. Therefore if it rains, you are free to go on a different evening.
A camping chair, a picnic and something to drink. Food and drinks are not essential, but definitely add to the experience.