'The Importance of Being (Somewhat) Earnest' - Anonymous Review

SUTCo’s newest radio play, based on Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, is a delight to listen to. CJ Simon’s adaptation is set in the modern day, at Sheffield Uni, and is full of witty dialogue, brilliant sound design and great acting.

This first episode mostly takes place on the train, focusing on the friendship between Aggy, the female counterpart to Wilde’s Algernon, and Jackie Worthing, better known as Ernest. The chemistry that Erin Stewart and Maddy Whitby, playing Ernest and Aggy respectively, managed to achieve, despite not being able to act in the same room, is highly admirable. They captured the nature of this relationship brilliantly, showcasing Ernest’s mild frustration at her friend’s naivety, and Aggy’s slight superiority complex, and yet, despite the fact that these two are so wildly different, Simon’s dialogue manages to show how close they are, after years of friendship, and highlights their similarities perfectly.

Even though he’s changed many aspects of the plot of Oscar Wilde’s play, CJ Simon has not lost any of the comedy, and the additional characters - namely the train conductors in this first episode - provide hilarious dialogue, which is delivered wonderfully by the cast. I have to say, the characterisation that the entire cast has achieved is remarkable, especially considering the obstacle of not being able to meet with the director, and also not being able to rehearse together. Everyone in this small cast shines, including Harry Soughton as Lane, who has mastered his character’s deadpan humour, and Tom Brown as Cecil, who, even though he is only heard in the first scene, embraces Cecil’s childlike enthusiasm, and delivers his lines with a contagious joy. I hope we hear more of them in the coming episodes!

Molly Clarke’s sound design is perfect, and incredibly immersive, most notably during Aggy and Ernest’s walk through the train station, where the sound of the bustling crowd around them, along with the distant announcements, really draw you into the scene.

A huge congratulations to the entire production team and cast, who have created a fantastic play, despite not being able to meet all together. New writing like this is always impressive, and CJ Simon’s adaptation has not disappointed. I am very excited to hear the rest of the episodes, and see where these characters end up!