An important and earnest review

The cast in the throes of the play. Photo: Penelope Coleman.

Tauranga Open Air Theatre’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is the last local show of the summer, and shouldn’t be missed.

Everyone should see an Oscar Wilde play at least once in their life. His wit is a great pleasure, and is on full display in this, his most famous play.

The plot concerns two young men – John Worthing (Michael Hayles) and Algernon Moncrieff (Cameron Buchanan), who both adopt the name and persona of ‘Ernest’ in order to impress their respective love interests.

Those love interests are Gwendolen Fairfax (Arumia Hayles) and Cecily Cardew (Jazzy Axton) - both of whom can only love a man with such a name.

An interruption to their plans is the formidable Lady Bracknell (Sarah Bates), Gwendolen’s mother, who has definitive ideas on many things, including – most famously – babies discovered in handbags. However, as with all good comedies, there is a happy ending in which she plays a part.

A strong supporting cast of local actors (Annie Lawler, John McCarthy, Ben Johnston and Renee Nielsen) complete the company, and each person plays their role very well.

Wilde’s wit is sometimes difficult to master, but each actor shines in their witty moments, perhaps injecting more sympathy and soul into their characters in the process (not altogether a bad thing).

The costumes are beautiful, as is the setting. The Elms is the ideal venue for outdoor theatre, and it’s almost magical to see it transformed into the world of the play for one night. Director and producer Suzy Sampson has pulled off a great feat, bringing together sound, lighting, set and action to create a truly unique experience.

You really shouldn’t miss this one. Just remember to bring something comfortable to sit on!

The play runs until February 11. For more information on times, and to buy tickets, visit: