The Importance of Being Earnest as Performed by Three F*cking Queens and a Duck

Those who turn up to this show eagerly anticipating an adaptation of Wilde’s famously farcical play The Importance of Being Earnest, albeit a more profanity-rich, sexed-up version, are in for a surprise. Indeed, Wilde is ever present: his familiar scenes and memorable one-liners are shrewdly woven into the fabric of the play. Wilde’s play serves merely as a loose theatrical framework for the characters (three grandiose yet clearly struggling actors) to shine in all their glory.

Amazingly, the audience finds themselves drawn to the “three f**king Queens”, who are clearly figures of ridicule: caricatures of the egotistical affectations of the world of showbiz. Yet, they speak with such an infectiously pompous drawl, and gesticulate with such delicious ostentation, that there is something so inexplicably likeable and captivating about them. Ironically, they perform the role of bad actors with such brilliance that you’ll find yourself totally absorbed in their sub-plots of sexual-favours, scandal and desire; you almost forget that Wilde’s rather more demure play has anything to do with the innuendo-laden flamboyance before you.

All three actors, but especially the elder pair, Steve Dawson and Lee Threadgold, possess a powerful stage presence with their quick-fire exchanges and diva-esque titter-tatter. However, often the pace in which the jokes are imparted means that before the depth of their wit has sunk in, they are onto the next. Indeed, when they finally “perform” the heavily cut down version of Earnest, we are instead bestowed with a riotously conceited rush-through performance in which the politics of jealousy, envy and narcissism are rife. Despite the sometimes overwhelming speed of delivery, it is the underlying tensions, both sexual and professional, between the three actors that ensure we are presented with a side-splittingly hilarious disaster of a show.

Steve Dawson’s highly original play should be crude, rude and tacky by its nature, but it’s not. The script is written with such dexterous flair and drollness that he transforms the farcical nature of the stereotypical thespian into a quick-witted, fast-paced lampoon of the theatrical world in general. And with the constant murmur of chuckling from the audience throughout, it’s fair to say that this is a production well worth seeing. Oh and where does the duck come in I hear you say? You’ll just have to go and see it to find that out

Originally printed for The Student Fringe Edition, 17th August 2014.