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The Importance of Having Fun: midsummer mayhem in the woods!



It’s what summer was made for surely?  Flower-covered trellises and cucumber sandwiches in an English country garden, birds twittering in the trees and bells echoing across the fields.... oh and some shrieking students and a noisy plane... welcome to the Hurtwood Players and their truly joyful end-of-year production of The Importance of Being Earnest  in our own glorious Amphitheatre in the woods.

 Thanks to Steven’s foresight 5 years ago, the tradition he established of imaginative foreshortenings of the classics, and exploiting the considerable talents of our enthusiastic students,  has become a highlight at the end of long school year. 

Comedy – so much harder to pull off than sadness, in terms of tone and context – is exactly what is needed, and here we had all the fun of Oscar Wilde, brought to life by oodles of Hurwood talent and creativity.  As ever, Clare Crossley, queen of comedy, compressed and adapted the much-loved text to provide a worthy vehicle for the company of 10, both shortening and simplifying the text, whilst doing full justice to the iconic and ironic lines beloved by so many.   And the company?  Well, what lively, bouncing energy they brought to the proceedings, what youthful innocence, and frankly what beauty, as one influential observer was heard to comment. What a midsummer romp it proved, up and down the steps, over the walls and around the garden path, in and out of the tangle of societal and family expectations, in the age-old comedy of mistaken identities, gender cliches, of male machinations and female fantasies.  With mock duels and cat scraps aplenty, with more mansplaining than you could shake a tremulous fan at, the pace was nifty and boy did the audience love it.


With family and friends in the audience and summer suddenly awoken, what was not to love? Well done to all the company in all your hilarious pairings: you shared the stage with ease and expertise and generosity.  Hurrah for George and Lilly F and your passionate below-stairs tussles; to Lukas and Magdelena – blissfully innocent, you found each other in spite of yourselves; to Lilly C and Huey – it was worth all the leaping about; and  as for Sam and Leticia, well clearly this was a match made in.... er, not heaven perhaps, but secular pleasures surely await these two.  What marvelous couples you made, riffing off each other and the wonderful nonsense of love and lovers.  Kate and Max – opposite ends of the social spectrum, could something have worked here?  Who knows: but from start to finish you were at the centre of this entertaining critique of the human condition. 


Thanks to those whose vital support as ever, made this happen:  to Steph and Natalie, whose ‘muscular direction’ as Clare calls it, kept the production on track, to Stephen and Elizabeth for lights and costumes, as well as student Adam for publicity design, along with Doug, Ali and Guy, as always facilitating theatre at Hurtwood. 

Special – and rather poignant  - thanks finally to Alison, who is leaving Hurtwood after so many amazing years of service to drama as well as the life of the school.  As she has done so often, here she facilitated and supported the project in something of a swansong, and will be very much missed.  Fitting therefore that this last romp of a performance was built on all that Hurtwood Theatre has come to represent: inclusive creativity, impressive talent, mature responsibility to both entertain and involve the audience, and work the gorgeous space of the woods in midsummer.  With so much fun created, with such natural warmth and generosity, and good old-fashioned talent on display by the whole company it was, indeed, marvellous fun.  Thank you all.


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