independent

Sunday 24 September 2017

Funny show the perfect start

Dundalk Theatre Workshop’s The Importance of Being Earnest
Dundalk Theatre Workshop’s The Importance of Being Earnest

Anne Campbell

Dundalk Theatre Workshop pulled out all the stops for their production of Oscar Wilde's 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and delighted audiences once more with their ability to not only bring every of the many comedic episodes of this very funny play to life, but to also showcase some exceptional acting talent to the stage in this, their 40th anniversary year.

It could have been that this play, written more than 110 years ago, was made for director Fergus Mullen. And his ability to not only to see and read the comedy but also to exploit it to its fullest potential ensured that this production of The Importance of Being Earnest lacked the potential to slide into irrelevance.

The costumes, by The Abbey Costume Hire, with help from Aine Corcoran and Rosetta Whyte, were stunning certainly, but it was the actors inside those costumes that really shone. Every one of them kept up their high class English accents through an exceptionally wordy script and each made their characters their own.

Adrienne Whelan as Lady Bracknell, the tough-as-nails harsh, moralistic and extremely witty auld biddy was unforgettable. Her beautiful regal face, radiating from underneath huge ostrich feathers on her elaborate hats, needed only a raised eyebrow or for the mouth to twist for the comedy to shine through. Adrienne channelled her inner 'Dowager Duchess Maggie Smith' from Downton Abbey to perfection and was a joy to watch.

The other female actors, who performed the first show on International Women's Day incidentally, were superb. Fiona Mullen as Gwendolen Fairfax and Lyndsey O'Neill as Cecily Cardew displayed a great chemistry both with other characters, but also with each other and made comedy look easy.

There was also great rapport between Paudie Breen as Algernon Moncrief and Trevor Lee as John Worthing. Breen, a veteran now of Dundalk Musical Society, is really blossoming in his roles with the Theatre Workshop and his role as Moncrief just scratched the surface of a very deep pool of comedic talent.

Lee, whose role was straighter, provided the counterfoil for Breen and the pair were excellent in scenes together. Pauline Wilson was a hilarious Miss Prism, while her comedy counterfoil was Kieran Lawless as Canon Chasuble and they too, despite their smaller roles, showed their great ability for comedy. The last word to man servants, Tim Ahern and Bernard Dunne. They were laugh out loud funny. A perfect start to the 40th year.

The Argus

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