“The Importance of Being Earnest” is an impassioned beginning to DramSoc’s year

UCD DramSoc’s The Importance of Being Earnest opened their season on Wednesday the 26th September, and if this production is anything to go by then it’s a good omen for the rest of the season. Directed by Rachel O’Sullivan, Earnest comes with a talented cast and a seemingly faultless opening night, and one can only hope that the rest of the semester’s shows follow suit. Earnest is a classic farce penned by Oscar Wilde in 1895, and has rarely left the stage since its inception; it’s light hearted comedy and biting wit, coupled with an easily solved conflict, makes it a very difficult play to do wrong, and ‘wrong’ is the very last word anyone would use to describe this rendition.Despite opening night jitters, the play went off without a hitch, lacking stalls, missed queues, or any small hiccups you might associate with the phrase ‘student performance’. Jack and Algernon, played by Jack Hanrahan and Morgan Buckley respectively, had the jaunty camaraderie typical of the role, playing off of each other with an easy comfort. Bouncing eagerly off of the subtle derision of Evelyn McCann’s dual portrayal of Lane and Merriman, their butlers, his subtle digs at the absurdity of social convention flying under their radar. The majority of the cast follows suit with portrayals that display a keen knowledge of their characters, Eimear Griffin’s Gwendolen in particular leaning into dialogue which pokes fun at the frivolous and exhibitionist tendencies of her character, highlighting the comedy in her instructing Jack that he is to tell her often how much he loves her, especially when others are watching. Similarly, Cecily, as portrayed by Ellen Walters, leans into the childishness of her character, demonstrating the farce in a child play-acting as an adult, suddenly being thrust into the exact world she has imagined for herself and simply carrying on as if she had planned it.However, the true gem of the night was the portrayal of Lady Bracknell by Kate Lynch. Full disclosure, The Importance of Being Earnest is my favourite play. Lady Bracknell is my favourite character, and despite the many adaptations I have seen, I had yet to see a rendition of Lady Bracknell I enjoyed more than when Stockard Channing played her in the 2010 production in the Gate theatre. That is, until last Wednesday. Lynch took a risk in her portrayal of Lady Bracknell and it paid off in spades. Bracknell is typically played relatively sedately, quips thrown from a comfortable yet stately position in a high-backed armchair, poise fitting a woman of her standing from high society. Lynch took this established portrayal and threw it in the bin. She put her entire body into every moment she was on stage, mixing physical comedy into the already potently funny script. Little moments, like her lack of care to even pretend to use her cane when entering or leaving a room, her leaving it behind her when leaving Algernon’s salon without even noticing, bringing the comedy of her artificiality to a new height. The biggest laugh of the night was her, choking the vicar by his vestments as she was so enraged by the news that he brought. A serious moment in the farce, simultaneously undercut and enriched by the choice to turn Lady Bracknell into a physically comedic character. Honestly, Lynch spent so much time chewing the scenery it was surprising when there was still a stage when the lights turned back on, and the play was better for it. The production took a risk with a new interpretation of an established role, and that was what elevated it from a skilled production to a production you leave and immediately tell friends they needed to go and see for themselves, because you would not be able to do it justice in your retelling. O’Sullivan and her cast did an incredible job on a classic, and one can only hope the rest of the season follows suit, because if it does then the DramSoc theatre is going to be home to some truly amazing work this year.