|The Importance of Being Earnest
By Oscar Wilde
London Classic Theatre
Tour of Britain and Ireland, 23 January – 14 June 2013
Directed by Michael Cabot
My fourth play – and sixth tour – with London Classic Theatre gave me the great joy of being able to take part in Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece and listen to it, almost in its entirety, every night. Playing both butlers – the suave, sophisticated and highly efficient Lane in Act 1, and the bumbling incompetent Merriman in Acts 2 and 3 – allowed me full rein to develop two distinct personalities. And director Michael Cabot’s decision to have the relevant butler on stage most of the time meant that I got to hear Wilde’s brilliant wit echoing around theatres the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland – and to respond accordingly. The words 'mugging', 'upstaging' and 'over the top' played no part in my finely honed, in-the-moment performance (see below!)
"Richard Stemp played Lane/Merriman with nothing short of genius timing and mannerisms... This production is not to be missed."
— 6 Towns Radio, 5 April 2013
"The standout performance was from Richard Stemp, who played both butlers – Lane in town and Merriman in the country. The stage was set with very few props but what added to the subtlety of the butler’s dual roles was how he effortlessly manoeuvred the chairs and tea trays around the stage.
He successfully facilitated, rather than intruded, on each scene and the minimalistic staging worked well, leaving the emphasis on the dialogue."
— Danielle Bourne, The Sentinel, Staffs, 8 April 2013
"…the show is all but stolen by Richard Stemp as Merriman, the increasingly perturbed looking butler…"
— Neil Cooper, The Herald Scotland, 23 May 2013
"I must praise a wonderful Richard Stemp who played Lane & Merriman, he had fabulous timing and was very understated, it can be a hard task to be in a scene when all the action is going on around you, he was totally in that moment, and who knew a tea trolley could be so funny!"
— Erica Ann Deakin, Severn Magazine, 12 June 2013
"Both Merriman and Lane (the butlers of Worthing and Moncrieff respectively) are played by Richard Stemp, and he does an absolutely wonderful job of it… In act I, Stemp’s Lane is decidedly melancholy, a trait which is reflected not just in his few lines of dialogue with Algy, but in everything from his expression to the way he carries himself. Despite this, he is 'suitably' groomed and tidy, which makes it even more comical when Stemp returns to the stage in Act II as Merriman, looking dishevelled, disgruntled, hulking, and slightly bewildered; aspects which increase with hilarious effect as Acts II and III progress and the poor Merriman becomes ever more harangued."
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