“A show goes wrong” is a theatre staple (see Noises Off, The Real Inspector Hound) and, coupled with the equally popular genre of improv-comedy, nowhere is the resulting sub-genre more popular than at the Edinburgh Fringe. Here, it seems, one cannot throw a stick without hitting a shit-faced Shakespeare, musical, or a show that was supposed to run normally until somebody threw a stick at them.
To this “[Insert IP] but it goes wrong” genre comes The Importance of Being… Earnest?, as the “Oscar Wilde But It Goes Wrong Show”. And it’s 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 through-out the show. It’s not every improv related show designed to be different every night that has through-lines and gags set up in earlier scenes.
Though this does break the allusion in a couple places, with a couple of performances not feeling quite at home within the conceit of the show and seeming ultimately unnecessary, it is overall a great benefit to the show, and the cast (especially the character of the Director) kept the show moving well in both their own routines and their reactions to the audience.
Fans of improv-comedy and meta-theatre will find a lot to enjoy in this show, but fans of Wilde, as the show notes, go in at their own risk!
The Importance of Being… Earnest? plays until August 28th at the Pleasance Courtyard, and tickets can be found at https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/importance-of-being-earnest?
Reviewer: Oliver Giggins
Reviewed: 5th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★