Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ by Oscar Wilde at Genesian Theatre

Lady Windermere's fan At Genesian Theatre

Photo: Craig O'Regan

The Genesian Theatre has always been pretty good at costume drama, and its current production, Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, is no exception.

The young and, of course, beautiful heroine, played with great poise and charm by Aimee Honor, is turning 21, and a ball is to be held in her honour.

She receives a gift of an exquisite fan from her husband Lord Windermere (played by Kendall Drury), but it is tainted by her suspicion that he is having an affair with an older woman, Mrs Erlynne (Michela Noonan), whom he insists be invited to the ball.

And so Wilde sets up the scenario for a satire of upper-crust English society, letting it unravel until it threatens to overwhelm our heroine, who at the last moment is saved from scandal and a ruined reputation by the very person she suspects of wishing to harm her.

Director Jess Davis moves the dialogue along at a nippy pace, so suited to Wilde’s style. Set designer Tom Fahy creates a terrific period feel with relatively little, Peter Henson produces lovely costumes, and lighting designer Michael Schell leaves no corner of the stage in darkness.

Many of the witticisms with which we are familiar are derived from this play. For example, “I can resist anything except temptation.and a cynic is … “a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Lady Windermere’s Fan was Wilde’s first success on the stage. After the premier in 1892, he said: “Ladies and Gentlemen. I have enjoyed this evening immensely. The actors have given us a charming rendering of a delightful play, and your appreciation has been most intelligent. I congratulate you on the success of your performance, which persuades me that you think almost as highly of the play as I do myself.”

Until May 7. Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent St, Sydney. $30-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.genesiantheatre.com.au

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