PREVIEW – Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Washington Old Hall, July 26

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OSCAR Wilde’s classic comedy of manners heads to Washington later this month.

The Pantaloons theatre company is bringing its fast-paced, physical and funny production of The Importance of Being Earnest to Washington Old Hall.

Everybody loves Ernest. In fact, Cecily and Gwendolen are both engaged to Ernest. The only trouble is, Ernest doesn’t exist. Or does he? Best friends Jack and Algy have both created alter-egos to win the affections of their beloveds; but when will they stop being Ernest and start being, well, earnest?

The Pantaloons’ energetic new production adds a few contemporary twists to this perennially popular play.

Before the show even starts, the audience’s needs will be met by The Pantaloons’ team of efficient butlers who will help to direct people to their seats, announce their arrival, open their champagne and maybe even shine their shoes.

“This is not just a retread of an old standard,” says director Mark Hayward, “this is a show crammed full of imagination. We’ve taken influence from silent film, Victorian music hall and contemporary physical theatre to complement Wilde’s brilliant words.”

Audiences can expect a rather unladylike Lady Bracknell (played by founding Pantaloons actor Martin Gibbons), moments of audience interaction and live music provided by the talented cast including original songs written specially for the production.

“The Pantaloons’ Earnest is faster, funnier and more physical than ever before,” said Mark. “This is not just open-air theatre at its finest; this is theatre at its finest.”

This is the second year The Pantaloons will perform at Washington Old Hall. Mark said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be returning to such a beautiful location as Washington, it’s the perfect setting for this classic show.”

Audiences are asked to bring a picnic and something to sit on. Tickets are £10 from Tel. 416 6879 or visit www.thepantaloons.co.uk.