Skip to main content

The Importance of Being Earnest

December 2015

About The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde, first performed in 1895. The play tells the story of two men, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who both assume the identity of a fictional man named Ernest, leading them both to fall in love and find an assortment of problems along the way.

The full title of the work is The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People. The title of the comedy is a play on words, with the two men deceiving those around them by using the name Ernest, while the word ''earnest'' means both serious and sincere.

The play is anything but serious, and the characters are anything but sincere in their names.

5th to 12th December 2015

  • Location: Courthouse Theatre

  • Genre: Comedy

  • Playwright: Oskar Wilde

  • Director: Hedley Thomson


Peter Vanderkley

John (Jack/Earnest) Worthing J.P.

Kristopher White

Algernon Moncrieff

Laura Hudson

Gwendolen Fairfax

Petea Stark

Cecily Cardew

Jane Gaylor

Lady Augusta Bracknell

Christine Holmes

Miss Prism

Paul Rose

Rev. Canon Chasuble D.D.

Lee Taylor


Hedley Thomson



  • Director
    Hedley Thomson
  • Designed
    Peter Nethercote
  • Production Manager
    Sally Read
  • Stage Manager
    Beth Foyster
  • Switchboard
    Robyn Ashmore
  • Sound
    Michael Zala
  • L.X. Rig and Focus
    Liam Mudge
  • Costume Design
    Kate Sullivan and Peter Nethercote
  • Makeup
    Amelia Collier
  • Set Construction
    Robin Philip
  • Graphics
    Sally Read and Brian McClelland
  • Program
    Sally Read
  • Photography
    Gary Hunt
  • Foyer Design
    Robyn Ashmore and BNT members
  • Front of House
    Yvonne Downing and BNT members
  • Pre-Production
    Robyn Ashmore, Simon Caroll, Brian McClelland, Clare Lacey, Yvonne Downing, Andrew Henwood, Chris Holmes, Steve Holmes, John Krul, Peter Nethercote, Peter Nutall, Marg O’Hanlon, Robin Phillip, Sally Read, Gaven Stephens, Hedley Thomson, Michael Zala and the Publicity Committee



    Reviewer: Gail Sjogren

    Earnest - An Oldie but a Goodie

    What makes a play a perennial favourite with audiences? Whatever the magic formula, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest certainly has it, as it remains an audience drawcard more than a hundred years after its author’s death.

    The rules and rituals of Victorian high society are exaggerated and the characters are larger than life but remain recognisably people with whom we can identify and chuckle. The dialogue is extremely clever and we hesitate to laugh out loud for fear of missing the next line. This production, directed by Hedley Thomson, maintains the exceedingly high standards of recent BNT offerings and is sure to provide a thoroughly enjoyable and laughter-packed evening.

    Peter Nethercote’s elegant sets capture the ambience of Victorian upper-class society with dramatic flair while the costumes are stunning. Even the set changes are part of the entertainment. The accents never falter as an immensely talented cast deliver those well-known lines and remind us of the wittiness for which Wilde was so renowned.

    Peter Vanderkley as upright and decent Jack, and Kristopher White as the lovable rogue Algernon, are perfectly contrasted as their secret lives are revealed. Their lady loves played by Laura Hudson as the socially aware Gwendolen, and Petea Stark as deceptively simple Cecily, provide an equally well-balanced contrast. Paul Rose’s Canon Chasuble is suitably pompous, Christine Holmes’ simpering Miss Prism is a delight and I really enjoyed Lee Taylor’s two contrasting man-servant roles. And what of Lady Augusta Bracknell, one of the best known characters in theatre? Jane Gaylor is perfect in the role, bringing fresh life to those wonderful lines and quelling all comers with a single haughty glance.

    My companion at the preview performance was an 18- year-old who knew nothing of the play, while I know it very well. We were equally entertained and amused which rather goes to show that Earnest has in no way lost its appeal. A night out here will provide a very pleasant break in this sometimes frantic lead-up to Christmas.