Pleasance Courtyard – Beyond
I knew that The Importance of Being… Earnest? would be interactive, however, nothing could have prepared me for the extent of just how much. Within the first ten minutes, the cast are on the lookout for an audience member to join them on stage. I sank as far into my seat as humanly possible, hoping that I wouldn’t get picked. I very much enjoy watching fellow audience members improvise on stage, but the constant fear of being chosen always lingers in the back of my mind.
The role of Earnest went to an American man named Wyatt. He was absolutely perfect for the part, as his monotone, hesitant answers contrasted with the cast’s grandiloquent acting. He often gave one-word answers, but his comedic timing was impeccable; the audience roared with laugher to his answer to Lady Bracknell’s question of ‘What do you do for a living?’, informing her that he worked at a non-profit organisation. Her respond? ‘Ah, yes, very common in 1895’. The exchanges between Wyatt and Lady Bracknell continued to impress, with both matching each other’s wit seamlessly.
More audience members were asked to join the cast on stage for the second scene. Two women were randomly chosen and asked to read Queen lyrics as part of an impromptu audition. The “director” leapt down from the stalls and ran on stage to direct. A nervous and jittery stagehand got involved as well, from running around fetching spare copies of scripts, to hyping himself up to make an announcement on the microphone.
The funniest moments occur when the props aren’t where they’re supposed to be after the scene reset. A drink is finished and a jacket is not hung up on the correct peg. Watching the actors’ panicked reactions is hilarious and gets the audience giggling. However, the most memorable moment comes with an interpretive dance sequence acting out what happened with the handbag.
The living room set is complete with a piano, sofa and alcohol cabinet, where actors sneakily take swigs of various drinks here and there. The costumes fit the audience participants surprisingly well, which makes me question how unknowing they are.
This is a show for those who are comfortable with the possibility of being on stage and improvising because there’s only so much you can do to avoid getting selected. If you’d like a more relaxed experience, my advice is to sit towards the back and avoid eye contact as much as possible!
Written and produced by: Say It Again, Sorry?
The Importance of Being… Earnest? plays at the Pleasance Courtyard (Beyond) until the 27 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.