REVIEW The Importance of Being Earnest​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ at The Spring Arts Centre, Havant

I hate Oscar Wilde, so attending his plays I see as a challenge to the company: make me enjoy this.

Now, I’m going to go on record as saying I didn’t hate The Bench’s latest offering – The Importance of Being Earnest at The Spring in Havant.

In fact – heaven help me – I really liked it.

In a play as done as this, there’s little any company can bring to it that is brand new.

Mark Wakeman’s direction, however, demolishes some of the cliché of this theatrical behemoth and freshens it.

He is lucky, too, with his cast – not one of whom lets the side down.

Perhaps, just perhaps, Chris Vanstone (Jack) and Dan Finch (Algy) could relax a little more and let Oscar do more of the work.

While I despise the man’s arrogance, I’m not going to knock his ability to nicely-hone a phrase.

His words do the work without the extra push an actor may be tempted to give them.

Wakeman’s women really shine. Fiona Bradley (Gwendolen), Ingrid Corrigan (Lady Bracknell), Sally Hartley (Miss Prism) and particularly Jo Langfield as Cicely take the ludicrous plot and make both it and their characters believable.

If you want an evening of trivial nonsense – and a good laugh – this is for you.

JAMES GEORGE