The great Oscar Wilde's final comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, has been a masterpiece for over a century and remains so today.

Therefore, the Attic Players set themselves a huge challenge by taking on the classic dramatic gem in the austere surroundings of Skelmorlie Village Hall.  It was an absolute triumph of a production.

It was nostalgic enjoyment for me, as I had performed as the Canon when Largs Players had the privilege of staging Earnest in the grandeur of Kelburn Castle years ago.

What resonated with me was the delicious use of words and phrases which flow through scene after farcical scene, beautifully laid out in costume and simple decor.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

"To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness," is but one of the immortal lines from the redoubtable character Lady Bracknell.

The essence of the story is that friends Jack and Algernon pretend to be named Earnest to please their girlfriends - but, as in life, a web of deceit becomes increasingly entangled overseen by Lady B with hilarious consequences.

Wilde wrote it as a satire of Victorian ignorance and hypocrisy displayed by fake aristocratic characters, before he was imprisoned for what was considered sexual notoriety.

Attic Players not only rose to the giddy heights of performance but managed to set three different decorative scenes of sitting rooms and gardens.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Acting wise, the first scene is always slower as the players introduce themselves and their situations and relationships to an audience which really has to pay close attention to the posh, clipped accents, and to tune into the drip, drip, drip of Wilde's delicious lines.

"Do you smoke?" she asks. "Certainly," he says. "I'm pleased to hear it. A man should have an occupation."

Or how about: "A woman who flirts with her own husband is scandalous." The clever jokes just keep coming in Earnest.

The ensemble commendably managed to execute the projection and precision of speech required for the complex script.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Director Tom Macdougall, who was also the stern butler Lane, will hopefully enjoy a quiet festive holiday after months of pushing and pulling this admirable production together.

Algernon (Aaron Robert Pennie) and Jack (Stewart Macdougall) as the uppercrust likely lads bounced off one another and reached breakneck speed from Act 2 onwards. It is an actor's triumph to take an exacting, exhaustive script and deliver it as well as they did. 

There was an interesting and successful use by Algernon of speaking to the audience in amusing fashion from time to time.

The legendary role of Lady Augusta Bracknell - she who must be obeyed - has to be in experienced hands and those belonged to the evergreen Linda McMurray who has directed and acted scores of classic plays and shows with distinction. 

Linda was the haughty, pompous, overbearing symbol of Victorian earnestness envisaged by Wilde and strutted the stage with aplomb and, dare I say, glamour.

Another experienced performer was Donna Laing in the part of Miss Prism, who has a liking for Canon Chasuble, played whimsically by Willam Clark Ferguson. They were well cast, injecting extra giggly humour into the latter acts of the play.

Seasoned Attic actor, Alison Goldie, added to the comedic snapshots as the cheeky, doleful maid Merriman.

If the two leading men bounced off one another, the young leading ladies sparked and sparkled in equal measures. Linn Van der Zanden as Gwendolen and Lucy Newbery as Cecily lifted the play to new heights with their interaction in the final scenes. For me, these were the most enjoyable moments.

Linn was the sophisticated yet pretentious Gwen, while Lucy - Largs Academy drama teacher - was the epitome of the coquettish, innocent country girl Cecily. Both acted with their eyes, full of expression, while extracting maximum satire from the lines. Perfect casting.

Commendations to all those who contribute to turning a village hall into a theatre.

As listed in the programme they are: stage design, Richard Laing; stage manager, Shona Phillips, assisted by Julia Coulthard; wardrobe, Gayle Mitchell, Jane Macdougall; sound, Simon Dell; lighting, Keith Agnew; production support, Gill Broderick and Karen Willey; continuity, Laura Frankgate.