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REVIEW: The Importance Of Being Earnest at Newcastle Northern Stage

 The Importance Of Being Earnest

Newcastle Northern Stage

Until Saturday 8 October 2022

It is a wonderful feeling when you leave a theatre thinking that you “really enjoyed that!” English Touring Theatre’s production of the Oscar WIlde classic feels fresh but allows the quality of the writing to shine through. Add a really entertaining cast who are able to convey their character with strong non-verbal signals to back up the script and you have a cracking show. 

Adele James, Justice Ritchie and Daniel Jacob 

This is one of the best comedy shows that I have seen this year. The show got so many things right. First presented in 1895, the show looks at relationships and shows how little things have changed.

Abiola Owokoniran and Valentine Hanson

Abiola Owokoniran and Justice Ritchie appear as Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing - a pair of men with the luxury of time to waste on the pleasures of what their status in society offers. John uses the name Earnest to entice Gwendolen (Adele James) and when the formidable Lady Bracknell (Daniel Jacob) is out of earshot he decides to propose to her.

Adele James as Gwendolen

Algernon then gets the opportunity to create chaos when he arrives at Cecily’s house. He decides to go by the name Earnest which pricks the interest of Cecily (Phoebe Campbell). Matters then become confused when John Worthing turns up, followed by Gwendolen. Who is the real Earnest? Is tutor Miss Prism (Joanne Ridley) interested in Dr Chasuble (Anita Reynolds)? All is revealed in a chaotic comedy that borders at time on farce.

Phoebe Campbell as Cecily 

Lily Arnold’s set allows the comedy to unfurl in such an entertaining way. The living room turns into a garden smoothly. Both settings allow the wonderful physical comedy of Valentine Hanson who appears as the vastly underappreciated manservant/butler characters.

Phoebe Campbell as Cecily and
Adele James as Gwendolen 

Director Denzil Westley-Sanderson has made a number of great decisions in allowing Ritchie and Owokoniran’s characters to spar off each one another. Occasionally they’d break the fourth wall with a glint in their eye. Even the brief moment that the show “went tech” was started with a improvised comment off Lady Bracknell to “sort that out” and finished with the two leads laughing it off when they returned.

Phoebe Campbell, Abiola Owokoniran, Adele James,
Valentine Hanson and Justic Ritchie

This was a fun night of  theatre. From Tinovimbanashe Sibanda’s choreographed entry of the ensemble to their final moment together (no spoilers!), the cast work really hard to deliver a fast paced treat. 

Review: Stephen Oliver

Photos: Mark Senior



The Importance of Earnest comes to Northern Stage 4-8 October. Tickets are available from £10 from and entrance to the exhibition is free. Box Office: 0191 230 5151

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