2010 - Importance of Being Ernest

Notes Present an Open Air Production of
Oscar Wilde's

The Importance
Being Earnest

9th and 10th July 2010 at 8pm
At Southwood House, Itchen Abbas, SO21 1AT
In Aid of
The Multiple Sclerosis Society
Winchester Cathedral Girl’s Choir
Itchen Valley Churches


Directed by Anna McGowan




John Worthing, JP                           Martin Humphrey

                                                             (Sponsored by Co-op Foodstores)

Algernon Moncrieff (his friend)      Ian May-Miller

                                                              (Sponsored by Macmillan Publishers)

Lady Bracknell                                 Lavinia Owen

                                                             (Sponsored by Cadogan and Co)

The Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax         Mary Hall

(her daughter)                                    (Sponsored by Winchester Chiropractors)

Cecily Cardew                                   Maddy Woosnam

(Mr Worthing’s ward)                       (Sponsored by Donnington Brewery)

Miss Prism                                          Caroline Morgan

(Miss Cardew’s governess)                (Sponsored by Mrs C Georgoulas)

Rev. Canon Chasuble                       Steve Percy

                                                              (Sponsored by Mrs M Percy)

Lane                                                    Geoffrey Burnand

(Mr Moncrieff’s man-servant)           (Sponsored by A Lee)

Merriman                                            Robert Hall

(Butler to Mr Worthing)                     (Sponsored by G Burnand)

Lord Bracknell (offstage)                  Nick Owen

     (Sponsored by Zedra Solutions)

Bunbury (a notorious invalid)           (Sponsored by Arkell’s Brewery)

Earnestly assisted by Patrick Appleby, Chris Cheong, Jill Croft, Chris Ellis, Clare Gaster, Sophie Jackson, Alex Percy, Vernon Tottle, Derek Ware, Di Wilson, James Woosnam and many others.


The cast is not quite so incestuous as last year. There is no brother and sister married or even in love this time. To strengthen the cast (and the genes), we have brought in some new blood from outside The Valley – to be sacrificed of course.

The Importance of Being Earnest – A Brief History


Believe it or not, Oscar Wilde had a house at Worthing! It was here that he wrote The Importance of being Earnest during a family holiday while he awaited the outcome of his bout with the Marquis of Queensberry.

None of Wilde’s plays cost him less effort than the best of them. The Importance flowed from his pen. The plot was originally more complicated, involving double identity and placed in the time of Sheridan. “In art I am Platonic, not Aristotelian, tho’ I wear my Plato with a difference”. The title went back to the subtitle of his dialogue, “The Critic as an Artist”, which was, “With Some Remarks on the Importance of Doing Absolutely Nothing”.

In The Importance sins accursed in Salome  and unnamable in Dorian Gray are transposed into a different key and appear as Algernon’s craving for – cucumber sandwiches.


So to the subtitle of The Importance – A trivial Comedy for Serious People!




Lavinia Owen – Lady Bracknell (who else?)

As befits someone who has aspired to Lady Bracknell so often, Lavinia started her adult acting career, appropriately,  as a Can Can dancer with HAG (Hartley Arts Group).  She much prefers her role in The Importance “When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind”.  Her versatility knows no bounds as long as she is playing Madam Arcati or Lady Bracknell.


Martin Humphrey - Jack

Fresh from his success in Art at The Chesil Theatre, Martin is a new talent to the Southwood Players.  His attempts at opting out by rupturing his Achilles tendon have all been to no avail – Gwendolen can run faster than him.  Unhindered by his crutches he flirts “perfectly disgracefully” with Gwendolen despite his unfortunate origins, “I would strongly advise you to try and acquire…at any rate one parent, of either sex, before the season is quite over”.


Ian May-Miller  - Algernon

Ian is also new to the group, on loan from the Hookers (Hook Choral Society) and talent-spotted by Lady B.  He is well known as a songster around Basingstoke. He claims his acting career peaked in Hansel and Gretel when he thinks Liz Hurley may have played Gretel.  He is sending cucumber sandwiches to Liz just in case!  “Algernon, he has nothing but he looks everything”.


Mary Hall - Gwendolen

Even as Mr Condomine’s second wife, Ruth, last year in Blithe Spirit, Mary was a long way from the song and dance leads of the Easton Pantomime. But that was a revelation and she had no autocue! Now as the up-market Hon Gwendolen we wonder if she will be playing Angela Rippon. Watch her twist the old gorgon’s tail (as well as Jack’s) “I am hoping to develop in many directions”.


Maddy Woosnam – Cecily

Maddy, a member of TART (no idea what it is but it sounds fun), has

climbed every beanstalk and sung beautiful love songs – mainly to Mary and Caroline – in almost every Easton pantomime for the last 10 years. After dying on her brother as the ghostly Elvira last year, she is delighted to find another man – incest is a bit tricky.  She is recommending Botox to all her friends.  “Every girl should make some slight alteration to her age”.


Caroline Morgan – Miss Prism

Caroline shot to fame as Prince Charming in the Easton Pantomime in the 1990’s.  A succession of male roles won her further acclaim but left her sexually confused.  Thanks to a spell as a wicked witch and a fairy with enormous assets via Mrs Bradman in Blithe Spirit, she now feels ready to take on the role of Miss Prism, “a female of repellent aspect”


Steve Percy – Dr Chasuble

Besides Easton Pantomime, Steve’s last role was in the Winslow Boy where he was described by the Birkenhead News as “an actor of wit and promise”.  Judge for yourself.  His other claim to fame is a visit to Oscar Wilde’s cell in Reading Gaol.  Now having taken Holy Orders “I am a celibate, madam.”


Geoffrey Burnand and Robert Hall – Lane and Merriman

Vastly superior butlers these two.  Between them they prop up the new Easton Village Hall and Cricket pavilion.  Often to be seen to be in drag in the Pantomime and lately serving cucumber sandwiches only in the very best households – always for ready money.


Anna McGowan - Director

Anna has been involved with the widely acclaimed Easton Pantomime (have I mentioned it before?) for the last 26 years.  She started at the top as Jack (and the Beanstalk) and has been working her way down ever since.  Last year she was delighted to be headhunted to “cross the river” and direct Blithe Spirit (more acclaim) and has bravely taken up the challenge again this year.


Nick Owen – Lord Bracknell

…will be dining upstairs.


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