THE Barn Theatre began their 2020 season with what would at first glance appear to be a very low key, “easing in” show, with a two-hander comedy production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

But, we have to remember that this is the Barn, and easing in is not in their nature.

Oscar Wilde’s play has been described as the most perfectly plotted and written comedy that struts the lines between prose and poetry, and being so familiar, with a failsafe script, it’s one of those shows where the pressure on the actual performance is greater than ever.

The importance of being earnest is a story of mistaken identity, manners and romance; following two men who pretend to be someone they’re not, using the same pseudonym, Ernest.

This Built by Barn production follows stage manager, Kevin McKinnon, and producer, Graham de Hare, after they discover every theatre crew’s worst nightmare - the cast are missing.

But the show must go on and we must watch as a brave producer and stage manager tackle every single character.

Ryan Bennett and Aidan Harkins are tasked with the high speed re-telling of this society charade and do not disappoint as they expertly navigate the witty and amusing dialogue.

Bennett returns to the Barn following his successful debut in the theatre’s acclaimed musical production of Daddy Long Legs and demonstrates his versatility as he throws himself effortlessly into the fray.

Harkins’ first appearance also deserves great praise, with his boundless energy drawing the best out of each character and helping to maintain the tempo of the story.

The lightening-quick changes enhance the play’s natural comedy, with both actors switching skilfully between idle gentlemen, dominating mother and prancing ladies, perfectly – as reflected in the audience’s continuous laughter.

Whether it was gender switching, changing accents or the role of the formidable Lady Bracknell, the flawless pair rose to the task.

This is a deliciously camp and ferociously witty comedy of errors giving an incisive observation on the social mores of the day.

Cleverly directed by Bryan Hodgson, this laugh-out-loud farce is executed with great pace and style, bringing this hilarious social comedy to life in rumbustious fashion.

The “a handbag?” line never fails to please.

This is another huge hit by the amazing Barn Theatre team, and a must for the diary.

The importance of being earnest is on at the Barn Theatre until Saturday, February 15 after which time it transfers to the Turbine Theatre in London for a two-week run from February 18–29.