A Woman of No Importance

Five stars

Theatre Royal, Brighton, Monday, September 23, runs until Saturday

THERE is something invigorating about the pace and grace of Classic Spring’s revival of A Woman Of No Importance.

Playing it straight – in terms of setting, costume and so on – the cast is free to revel in Oscar Wilde’s witticisms without any distractions.

Isla Blair’s Lady Caroline Pontefract is radiantly indignant at the lamentable state of womanhood these days – often eliciting the biggest laughs – while Georgia Landers manages to get away with sweetness and sincerity amidst the venomous jollity.

In some clever staging, the action is hemmed in by a large picture frame, ensuring that the knotty drama is kept taut at all times.

The comedy still has room to shine however, including some fantastic slapstick from Will Kelly and Paul Rider’s drunken, flapping fops at the beginning of the second act.

The charismatic performances, and Mark Meadows’ bristling villainy in particular, kept the audience riveted throughout the more exposition-filled finale.

And musical interludes over the scene changes were good fun for the crowd too.

Tom Jude did a fantastic job standing in as Reverend Daubeny, all swaggering winks and funny characterisations, matched with a fine baritone voice.

A captivating and deftly humorous show.

Joe Fuller