Lady Gaga's Bad Romance is perhaps not what you'd associate with Oscar Wilde's play written in 1890s England, but this "new take" on the satire attempts to bring the comedy of manners, errors and witty repartee up to date with a bit of homo-eroticism, self-knowingness and a chart hit finale.
Introducing the RCS's third-year BA actors, for the short first half the comic timing and delivery could have been better. It was being altogether too serious, with moments of frivolous campery jarring completely, and some of Wilde's killer lines losing all their bite and impact.
After the interval, things could not have been more different. Direction from James Robert Carson started to make more sense, while Cassie Pettigrew's set took on a chessboard-cum-catwalk importance, especially when a beguiling young Cecily (played captivatingly by Hesper Stratford) was being assessed as a chattel by Lady Bracknell. Lois Mackie's Bracknell was a Machiavellian mistress who wouldn't be amiss on Gossip Girl and her tartan power dressing – with a sexy split – was a far cry from the familiar old battleaxe. Pace and punch improved markedly once the action moved to the country.
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Of the blithe young lovers, Alasdair James McLaughlin as Algernon carried most of the light-hearted (and sandwich-related) aspects, while Gwendolen (Alexandra Birchfield) had a passion which matched her Jilly Cooper-style knee-high riding boots. Daniel Cameron's Jack was more mean and moody than is typical, and anti-suave rather than petulantly pretty.
The twice-daily run (2pm and 7.15pm) ends today – note that some performances feature an alternate cast.