Andrew Devonshire, a Northern Bank employee, blogs about the forthcoming production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
I had the privilege and the absolute pleasure this week of attending a read through with the cast and crew of The Importance of Being Earnest - the next play to be performed on the Lyric Theatre's Northern Bank Stage. Following hot on the heels of The Civilisation Game, it looks like the Lyric have another comic gem in store.
Graham McLaren, the director, was unsure about the merits of a read through as he felt the presence of so many others would cause nervousness amongst the cast and put unnecessary pressure on them so early in the rehearsal process. Well, if the read through was the performance of a nervous cast then I can't wait to see them at the top of their game! Even at this stage you can picture the characters and the timing was perfect.
On the subject of the cast, two male actors are playing two of the female parts. It's a subversive delight that brings a new comic dimension to this much loved play.
As well as the read through of the play itself, we were also treated to a show and tell session by the play's Set and Costume designer Robin Peoples. He was affectionately referred to by Graham as 'Uncle Robin' throughout and the familial aspect of this nickname couldn't be more appropriate as the strong camaraderie of this company was clearly felt in the response to Robin's designs. There was a wave of positive reaction as he revealed his costume designs but in my opinion his real tour de force was his design of the set. Robin had a scale model of the set and it really conveyed the sense of grandeur and elegance that he intends for the full scale version.
I mentioned to a few people at the Lyric that the first play I ever saw in the old Lyric building was The Importance of Being Earnest about ten years ago. The two productions could not be more different and I mean that in a good way. To mention just one difference between the two, the first production used the intimacy of the old Lyric building in a simple but effective way with its set, while production will use the superb space of the Northern Bank Stage to create a sense of style and sophistication. I mention this not to invite comparisons between the two or argue over which production was better, but to highlight the seemingly endless reservoir of talent that the Lyric is able to draw upon and the individuality of each show it presents.
The joy of theatre is that every show is unique - each cast, each crew, each theatre and each audience changes a play in some way. So if you get the chance to see The Importance of Being Earnest through June/July then I advise you to take it because even if you wait ten years you'll never get the chance to see the same show again!
- Andrew Devonshire, is one of twenty members of Northern Bank staff across Northern Ireland who get the opportunity to make the most of their employer's sponsorship of the Lyric Theatre. The staff engagement programme entitled Lyric Leads recently won an award from Arts and Business NI. Staff involved get the opportunity to find out more about how a play is produced and avail of some sneak previews. Lyric Leads help promote and fully participate in Northern Bank's major partnership with the Lyric to colleagues and customers.
- All Northern Bank card holders are entitled to 20% discount off tickets for all shows on the Northern Bank Stage.