Players show assured touch with a classic

There is, in most great plays, one critical line; the "frankly my dear, I couldn't give a damn" or "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" moment.
In The Importance of Being Earnest, that line has been defined by Dame Edith Evans delivery of "A handbag!" in the first film version of Oscar Wilde's most famous work. It is the fate of all subsequent Lady Bracknells to be judged against that moment.
Beryl Binns passed the test with flying colours and delivered a hugely entertaining version which paid due lip service to Dame Edith's version in Skipton Players presentation of the comedy at the Little Theatre. Lady Bracknell has the best lines and Beryl carried sufficient authority, stiff pomposity, and comic timing to triumph.
Joanne Whistler was equally impressive as Lady Bracknell's spoilt and headstrong daughter, Gwendolen Fairfax.
In fact, all the cast contributed to an assured performance, relishing the opportunity to polish their take on a refined, upper class accent and delivering Wilde's aphorisms with aplomb.
The two main male roles were played by Phil Smith as the immoral Algernon Moncrieff and Brian Wakeling as John Worthing. Mr Smith looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself in a performance which was a near-perfect impression of Oliver Hardy. Smug grins to camera (or in this case audience), little chuckles and an effete way of comporting himself about the stage, all it lacked was the odd twiddle of the necktie. It worked marvellously, stopping just short of going over the top.
As Ernest/Jack, Mr Worthing's light voice took time to convince but his performance grew in stature and had me won over early in the second half.
Backed up by sterling performances from the lesser characters, the result was a classic delivery of a classic play; in other words, a real treat.

Review by Ian Lockwood in The Craven Herald 24/06/05