Kaos Theatre Company, The Importance of Being Earnest

Review in Issue 10-1 | Spring 1998

After all the hype surrounding the man himself, the question remains as to whether Wilde’s plays are still relevant today. Kaos answer this with a hilarious and contemporary version of his epic satire, proving beyond all doubt that the playwright’s genius still has resonance in ’90s Britain.

With the focus very much on the grotesque, Kaos discard naturalism and push the play’s characters to the extreme. The Reverend Chasuble maniacally flattens his hair and explodes with involuntary pelvic spasms, while Jack and Algie prance about in leopard skin and PVC. The real achievement is that none of this (not even Lady Bracknell’s obvious coke habit) ever becomes vulgar or breaks the excellent rapport between company and audience. The company give every spoken quip a visual equivalent.

Actors not playing major characters have dual roles: the servant is one moment a support for Jack as he’s suspended high in the air licking a cucumber sandwich, the next he’s gaily baring his back as an impromptu notepad for Algie to scribble on. This virtuosity adds to the carefree and somewhat tongue in cheek appeal of the piece. The company’s shameless exhibitionism directly fuels the wonderfully intense and grotesque humour, leading the audience to laugh even louder. This is a brilliantly crafted production from a company who are sure-footed enough to flaunt real ensemble power and a great liberty of theatrical expression, without ever missing the opportunity to have a laugh. With no less than three new shows in preparation for 1998, Kaos are certainly a company to follow.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-1
p. 26