Review: The Importance of Being Earnest (Brant Theatre Workshops)

I spent my Monday evening watching The Importance of Being Earnest put on by the Brant Theatre Workshops at the beautiful Casa Loma gardens in Toronto.

The outdoor setting is perfect for this Oscar Wilde classic. The Casa Loma grounds are breathtaking, creating an intimate setting which is quite romantic. The first act takes place on the patio above the gardens and after a brief intermission the second act is moved down to the garden itself, with chairs lined up to face a lawn with a gazebo that acts as the stage.

This comedic play is about a young man whose real name is Jack but who tells everyone in London that it’s Earnest. The woman that he falls in love with has pre-determined that she will only marry a man named Earnest; according to her it’s the only name that inspires confidence. I won’t give away too much of the plot and ruin it just in case you don’t know the story and would like to check out the show.

The British accents that the cast put on blew me away. The acting is great overall, but Janice Tate who plays Lady Bracknell is outstanding. She really does justice to the role with her uptight facial expressions and perfectly high-pitched voice; she has the entire audience laughing. It’s hard to believe she’s not a Lady living in nineteenth century England.

The props are minimal but there’s plenty of tea to go around in proper British fashion. The costumes are spot on and the fainting couch in the first half is a nice touch.

There are a couple of things that both my friend James and I found a touch annoying. First, although the castle is quite secluded and tucked away at the end of a quiet residential street, we could periodically hear motorbikes, sirens, trains and helicopters that drowned out the actors’ voices.

That said, the second act was a lot better as they had all the actors wearing mikes so we didn’t miss out on any dialogue. Hopefully they decide to do the same for the first act at the next show.

The other annoyance was that one of the actors -who shall remain nameless- kept forgetting his lines or saying the wrong thing and it was obvious to the audience. However, in his defence it is opening night and he does recover quite well.

If you do plan to see this show, which you should, get there early as seating is limited and if you’re short like me, you may spend most of the night leaning to one side to get a good view of the action. The play is two and a half hours long including the intermission but definitely entertaining all the way through.


The Importance of Being Earnest by Brant Theatre Workshops at the Casa Loma gardens, 1 Austin Terrace. Tickets can be purchased through the Casa Loma Box Office by calling 416-923-1171.

-Remaining shows are Tuesday, July 28th at 8:00pm and Wednesday, July 29th at 8:00pm.

Photo credit to Janet Davis