Review: The Importance of Being Earnest at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton

David Suchet as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest
David Suchet as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest
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While he lacks the tipped moustache that made him an icon as Poirot, David Suchet is nonetheless magnificent as Lady Bracknell in this production of Oscar Wilde’s best-known play.

He cuts an august figure as the piece’s matriarch, a supporter of the social status quo and stickler for all that’s proper.

Suchet plays the part with obvious relish, oozing mock-outrage upon learning her daughter’s suitor was found abandoned in an unlikely spot at Victoria station when he was a baby.

‘In a handbag!’ he blurts out to the joy of the audience.

But this is no one-man show by any stretch, and the rest of the cast are just as adept at breathing new life into this much-loved satire of Victorian society and manners.

Philip Cumbus is impressive as the mischief-loving cad Algernon, and Imogen Doel shows comic flair as his romantic goal, the young Cecily Cardew.

The real fun here is watching the conflicts simmer beneath an uppity aristocratic veneer.

Cumbus and Michael Benz’s John Worthing provide one such moment while stuffing muffins into their mouths, and Doel another as she overloads a rival’s tea with ‘unfashionable’ sugar.

There’s nothing like seen a classic play performed well, and when half the audience are so chuffed they say the final line along the actor you know it’s been a job well done.