Browse reviews

Brighton Fringe 2023

Lady Bracknell’s Confinement

Paul Doust-December Hall Actors Theatre

Genre: Absurd Theatre, Character Stand up, Dark Comedy, Drama, Fringe Theatre, Solo Play, Solo Show, Theatre

Venue: Lantern Theatre/Grand Central/Old Ship Hotel-Brighton


Low Down

“Lady Bracknell’s Confinement”- The Grotesque and hilarious revelations of Oscar Wilde’s pulverising matriarch



This is a masterclass-pure and simple and a fine showcase for both author and protagonist-Paul Doust.

Not only has this brilliantly crafted monologue /play been meticulously thought out, written and finely tuned -but also has the benefit of many years of performance by both playwright and previous actors. This pays off in spades , the text is rich to the ear and in less than an hour- we are taken on an incredible back story that is totally conceivable, believable and memorable to the extent it will linger in one’s mind for a long time to come-and come to mind – whenever one re-visits Wilde’s original.

The concept is simple-but the images and elaborate story that have been created are both hilarious, at times deeply moving – but ultimately hysterical- and the performance at the Lantern saw the audience hanging on every last word from start to finish.

Lady Bracknell has always stood alone -as a curious character-that evokes questions about her upbringing, elevation to her exalted position and her whole demeanour-and this stunning work- answers a large percentage of those questions- albeit venturing into an absurdity-that Wilde would most certainly have approved of!

As with any great literary work-there is a history to discover  and questions to be asked and created in the actor’s mind-in order to present a fully rounded character -that is not merely “surface”. This stunning monologue skilfully provides a lot of answers-surreal, bizarre and incredible by turns.

Lady Bracknell-Oscar Wilde’s most enduring character-of whom there have been countless interpretations is given a whole new lease of life here by actor and playwright Paul Doust- giving a totally believable and powerhouse performance of the mighty Lady – who is not all she seems-but whom has managed to keep her formidable exterior image since her “creation” by Wilde -and the character we learn has taken on her “mantle”

BUT- It would be wrong to give too much of the plot away -as there are plenty of surprises along the way -all skilfully packed into fifty-five minutes.

The Wildean style, word play, wit and language has been carefully re-created-to the extent -that one can sense Oscar’s seal of approval of every line.

Paul Doust’s  diction and stage presence is exemplary – even down to a beautifully created period costume. He commands the stage totally-and never does his interpretation become caricature or lapse into a “drag persona”.

The simple staging -of just couch,table and chair and cut glass decanter and glass -ensures the audience are fully engrossed from the start-and the ingeniously  created plot is not only totally believable  believable- but takes Wilde’s character to a height – hitherto unseen.

Characters that are merely mentioned in Wilde’s original-now take centre stage -particularly the mysterious Lord Bracknell, Thomas James Cardew-and even Mary Farquhar!

In short- this unique concept completes Wilde’s storyline to perfection -and it will be very hard to view the original, without taking this incredible insight into Bracknell’s back story on board and holding it at the forefront of one’s mind.

With four more performances scheduled in Brighton-miss them at your peril!