The Importance of Being Earnest made a welcome return to the West End at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 27th June to 20th September 2014. The fictitious Bunbury Company of Players put on the show, starring Nigel Havers and Siân Phillips, which made for an interesting re-imagining of the famous play. The production was directed by Lucy Bailey with design from Olivier Award winner William Dudley. Simon Brett joined as company writer to add his own embellishments to the production.
The rest of the Bunbury Company of Players were the actors Rosalind Ayres (Outnumbered), Cherie Lunghi (Excalibur), Martin Jarvis (Miss Marple, Taking the Flak) Niall Buggy (Mamma Mia!, Brideshead Revisited), and Christine Kavanagh (The King of Chaos, Doctors). Interestingly, both Nigel Havers and Martin Jarvis starred alongside Judi Dench in Peter Hall’s production at the National Theatre in 1982.
The Importance of Being Earnest London previewed from 27th June and ran from 17th July through to 20th September. It then embarked on an extensive UK tour, visiting: Theatre Royal, Bath (22-27 September), Theatre Royal Brighton (29 September-4 October), Aylesbury Waterside (6-11 October), Richmond Theatre (13-18 October) and Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham (20-25 October).
Martin Jarvis – John Worthing/Ernest‘s career covers the length and breadth of the entertainment industry. He is recently known for his roles in Miss Marple (2010) and Taking the Flak (2009), as well as penning two books (The Diary of a Theatrical Adventure and Acting Strangely). He is also a radio drama director and produces plays with his wife, Rosalind Ayres.
Nigel Havers – Algernon/Ernest is best known for playing Lord Lindsay in Chariots of Fire (1981), for which he received a BAFTA nomination. He is also recognised for his TV roles, notably as Dr Tom Latimer in Don’t Wait Up (1983 – 1990) and Lewis Archer in Coronation Street (2009 – 2013). He has recently appeared in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern (2014).
Siân Phillips – Lady Bracknell is most recognised for her role as Livia in the BBC’s 1976 adaptation of I, Claudius. She has since developed a prestigious career on the British stage, and has been nominated for Olivier Awards for Pal Joey (1980 – 1981), A Little Night Music (1996), and Marlene (1999) and Cabaret (2013).
Cherie Lunghi – Gwendolen is best known for her roles in British TV drama. She is perhaps most famous for playing Guinevere in the 1981 film Excalibur, as well as roles in The Mission (1986) and Frankenstein (1994). More recently she has appeared in When Calls the Hear (2013), Pat and Cabbage (2013), and Holby City (2014).
Christine Kavanagh – Cecily is known for her roles in The King of Chaos (1998), In His Life: The John Lennon Story (2000) and Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004). She has appeared in TV series including Doctors (2006 – 2009) and Midsomer Murders (2006), as well as being a part of the BBC Radio Drama Company for Radio 4.
Rosalind Ayres – Miss Prism is best known for her screen work, appearing in films and TV series including Titanic (1997), Gods and Monsters (1998), Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011), and the BBC 1 series Outnumbered (2010 – 2011) in which she played Gran. She frequently co-stars in productions alongside her husband Martin Jarvis.
Niall Buggy – Dr Chasuble is an Irish actor working in Ireland, the UK and the US. His best known roles include his Irish Theatre Award winning performance in Brian Friel’s Uncle Vanya and his Olivier Award winning performance in Dead Funny. His on screen work includes Mamma Mia!, Brideshead Revisited and Inspector Lewis (all 2008).
Lucy Bailey began directing after writing to Samuel Beckett as a plucky 20 year old, asking to stage his story Lessness. Since then she has worked at the Royal National Theatre, Glyndebourne Opera and the RSC. Her directing work includes Julius Caesar (2009), A Winter’s Tale (2012) and Fortune’s Fool (2013).
William Dudley studied at St Martin’s School of Art and the Slade School of Art, and has since gone on to become a respected theatre designer. He has designed many productions for The National Theatre, Royal Court and various West End venues. He won a 1994 Olivier Award for Best Set Design of Hitchcock Blonde.
Simon Brett is a successful crime writer and has penned three series of detective novels, as well as several mystery plays. He has worked extensively at the BBC, where he wrote many episodes of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue along with radio dramas for BBC 4. He also produced the first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.