Monday, August 29, 2011

a wonderrful performance in a pub

By chance I found myself in the Dolphin pub in Sydenham, just as they were about to start the matinee performance of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I looked at the programme and I didn’t see a single name I had ever heard of. The last time I saw the play was at the National, directed by Peter Hall. I must confess I found that production immensely cumbersome and boring, in spite of Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell. I was seized by curiosity to see how Wilde would fare in an outer borough of London.

I intended to leave in the interval, but couldn’t. I was amazed, thrilled. I could never have imagined I could see a better performance of the play in the back garden of a pub in Sydenham than in the National, but this was the case. The director, Jonathan Kaufman, had a perfect sense of timing, and rhythm and so did his actors The play flew along as a smoothly and at such speed as a symphony in the hands of a good conductor. The actors were all young, full of energy, passion and intelligence – they made Wilde’s wit sparkle in every sentence. It was a fast performance, yet nothing was lost. I was particularly struck by the actress playing Gwendolen, Rosalind Parker, Joseph Attenborough (Algernon) and Tom Franck (Jack Worthing)– but, with a single exception, they were all good.

This brilliant production shouldn’t be playing in the garden of a pub in Sydenham, but at the National or at the West End. Each performance would be sold out and all these young actors would be famous.

Stephen Vizinczey

1 comment:

mothy6 said...

I thought your review of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Dolphin Pub was sharp and to the point.

I have an interest since my son played Jack Worthing! However, it was refreshing to read a review that in a few words reflected what you thought. Would that professional national newspaper reviewers had such brevity.

Plan to read 'In praise of older women' which has somehow so far missed my reading lists