Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE
Thursday, 18 January – Saturday, 20 January 2024, 7:30PM (+ 2:30PM on Sat)
Praise for The Importance of Being… Earnest?
“A delightfully interactive, uproariously funny approximation of a familiar script. This show is a feast for theatre-goers of all levels of experience” ★★★★★ The Skinny
“a magical, once-in-a-lifetime ephemeral experience. A must see of the Fringe”
★★★★★ Theatre Scotland
“irresistible as a performance, guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of even the greatest of improv-phobic curmudgeons” ★★★★ The Scotsman
“Comedy genius…. get this on the west end now!” ★★★★★ Lost in Theatreland
“Each performance was so strong fast paced, highly energetic, yet also had the perfect amount of stillness to enable Wilde’s aristocratic satire to come to life.” ★★★★★ Broadway Baby
“The production marries together the genuine spontaneity of Austentatious with the sensibilities and structure of The Play That Goes Wrong, offering a production that is simultaneously meticulously planned and completely improvised…” ★★★★ A Younger Theatre
After phenomenally critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe runs in both 2022 and 2023 and previous London Fringe theatre success, the hugely popular ‘The Importance of Being… Earnest?’ – which takes a wildly interactive twist on this classic comedy, making Southampton audiences the true stars of the show – is embarking on a UK tour, and will play MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton on Thursday, 18 January – Saturday, 20 January 2024.
The play’s debut UK tour has a cast that includes the cream of the crop of UK improv including Lucy Trodd (a founding member of Olivier Award-winning Showstopper! The Improvised Musical), Amy Cooke-Hodgeson, (a founding member of award-winning comedy hit Austentatious, who has starred in multiple UK tours, Edinburgh Fringe runs and on BBC Radio 4’s recording of the show) and Tom Bulpett (who starred in The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre in the West End).
In this riotous twist on a much-loved classic the show opens to looming disaster; the actor playing Ernest in Oscar Wilde’s famed farce fails to arrive on cue. In a monumental effort to ‘save the show’, a real audience member is quickly cast in the lead role.
But this impetuous recasting sets off a hilarious chain of events that, one-by-one, renders the rest of the cast unable to continue their performances.
As more audience members are encouraged to step into the spotlight, led backstage for costume and make-up, impromptu auditions, the painting of portraits, the chanting of mantras; doing whatever’s needed to help the show go on, an absurd controlled madness ensues – until it feels as if there are almost as many audience members in the cast as there are in the … audience.
This is a comedic masterpiece of meticulous logistics, meritoriously involved audiences and masterful stage management. The Importance of Being… Earnest? Is an exciting and hilarious experience both to watch and be part of as the innovative format creates an unexpected new experience every night. It’s a show for anyone who has enjoyed the high-jinx of The Play That Goes Wrong, Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare and Austentatious.
Developed alongside the company’s flagship open-rehearsal initiative, where audiences are invited into the rehearsal room to participate in the creative process, the show is written by Josh King, Simon Paris and Say It Again, Sorry?, and is directed by Simon Paris.
The company’s vision is for the public to recover ownership over their own creative power and contribute to the future of theatre as active participants, collaborators, and decision-makers. Their aim is to connect people to their inner artist and inspire creative expression in everybody.
More praise for the show
“a lot of fun, both in how it uses its audience members and how it gives its own actors characters, arcs and jokes to play with throughout the show” ★★★★ North West End UK
“Downright entertaining. Slapstick comedy, misplaced props and scripts, and an intentional lack of cohesion among the cast and crew will have you chuckling every time” ★★★★ Broadway Baby
“A masterclass in comedic theatre” ★★★★★ North West End UK (London 2021)
“An entirely unique, unpredictable and hilarious form of audience participation” ★★★★★ Ask the Ushers (London 2021)