First published on 26 Sep 2011. Updated on 23 Nov 2011.
Simon Phillips is soon to say a sentimental farewell as Artistic Director of the MTC with his much anticipated and practically sold-out production of that evergreen favourite for connoisseurs of foppish wit. The Importance of Being Earnest.
Back in 1988, Phillips directed a star-studded production of Earnest with a young Geoffrey Rush and Jane Menelaus as the play’s seriously trivial couple, Jack and Gwendolyn. Now, 23 years later, the pair returns, graduating to Lady Bracknell and Miss Prism respectively. Filling their former roles will be Christie Whelan and Toby Schmitz, while the play’s other famous couple, Algernon and Cecily, will be played by Tony Taylor and Emily Barclay.
It’s a rare opportunity for Melburnians catch Barclay, who is in the middle of a busy couple of years, commuting between Sydney and London. She was recently cast by Sydney’s Belvoir resident director Simon Stone to lead his adaptation of Strange Interludes, which will open next year. And earlier this year she was critically praised for her goth-core performance as Masha in Benedict Andrews’s production of Chekhov’sThe Seagull.
But it hasn’t all been elevation and advancement. There have been some moments of collapse. In a grungy preview performance of Andrews’s The Seagull, Barclay’s character takes a deep hit from a bucket bong. “I inhaled it. Like properly inhaled it,” she laughs. “I took a few steps and passed out.” Of course, the audience loved it.
Swooning aside, it’s an event we’re unlikely to see repeated during The Importance of Being Earnest.
2004 - In My Father's Den, dir. Brad McGann, played troubled teen Celia (won 2004 New Zealand Film Award for Best Actress and British Independent Film Awards for Most Promising Newcomer)
2006 - Suburban Mayhem, dir. Paul Goldman, played Katrina (won Australian Film Institute Award for Best Lead Actress)
2009 - Prime Mover, dir. David Caesar, played Melissa
2010 - Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, dir. Zack Snyder, played the voice of Gylfie
2009 - Gethsemane, by David Hare, dir. Niel Armfield, played Suzette at Belvoir Theatre Sydney
2010 - That Face, by Polly Stenham, dir. Lee Lewis, played Mia at Belvoir Theatre Sydney
2011 - Seagull, by Anton Chekhov, dir. Benedict Andrews, played Masha at Belvoir Theatre Sydney
2011 - The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, dir. Simon Phillips, plays Cecily at Melbourne Theatre Company
2012 - Strange Interlude, by Eugene O’Neill, dir. Simon Stone, will play Nina at Belvoir Theatre, Sydney
The Importance of Being Earnest review
Sign up to our monthly arts newsletter