Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Three actors are drawn together to perform Oscar Wilde’s classic and their bawdy ribaldry delivers rehearsals that are both an in joke and an outrageous delight. This is rehearsing with the bitching in the rehearsal room rather than in the pub afterwards.
One elder statesman of the acting fraternity brings two other queens on board for a rehearsal period that will lead to a version of The Importance of Being Earnest. This version is cut down and radical because of the lack of budget but then gets further reduced when it has to be performed from 90 minutes to 45. The resultant performance does not seem to get beyond 5/6 minutes but contains all you would expect and a few surprises as this fantastically caustic bunch of queens rehearse with bile and perform with gusto.
This was crisp and bawdy. The jokes were coming so thick and fast I think the audience would have laughed at the stage directions. They were on board from the beginning with the laughter as thunderous as the humour. I was sat beside one young chap who was so shocked by what he was hearing I thought he was having an asthma attack… This is what the TV sitcom Vicious could have been as it wasn’t so much near the knuckle as sawing your hand off.
The possibility of course is that the in jokes for theatrical types may be a little lost on the general populace but this is theatre and this is the Fringe for goodness sakes. There were enough people from other companies in that all of the jokes were lapped up with sizzling gusto. The section involving Bhutto, Berkoff and Chekhov was inspired.
All three actors were fantastic. It was fast and furious and with their working off each other with quick wit and barbed ripostes you were left breathless at their absolute delight to shock and please you. It was tightly packed and tightly delivered as each actor played off the other showing bitchy sentimentality was out and straight to the point comedy was in.
There was little by way of set and there was no need of any. The duck will be explained if you go and see it but it became less of a prop as time progressed. I could have done without it and so could the piece but I could see why it was felt to be important for one actor – perhaps a rethink…. Or a bigger animal!
It was a full house who were laughing fit to burst. The concept of the show, the delivery of it and the whole 50 minutes were relentless and with enough filthy gay humour that you hung onto your morals at your peril. If Oscar is spinning in his grave as the publicity suggests, it is only so that he can get a better look!