The Importance of Being Earnest

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

While the Octagon Theatre undergoes an extensive refurbishment the company are performing in various venues across the town, one of the most impressive and merely a stones throw from the theatre itself is the beautiful Albert Halls. Part of the Town Hall the impressive Albert Halls acts as a perfectly fitting backdrop for Oscar Wilde’s much-loved Victorian comedy.

Our two protagonists, the dashing upper class cad Algernon (Jack Hardwick) and the seemingly more upstanding Jack Worthing (Dean Fagan) lead double lives in a bid to have some fun away from the strict social constraints of Victorian Britain whilst attempting to court the affections of headstrong City girl Gwendolen (Elizabeth Twells) and pouting country princess Cecily (Melissa Lowe) all of course to the distasteful displeasure of the domineering Lady Bracknell (Sarah Ball).

The play moves at a good pace once you get used to the slightly echoey acoustics within the lofty Albert Halls; Director Suba Das and designer David Woodhead have injected a real sense of style into this production. The stage resembles a photographer’s studio giving the cast opportunities to strike a pose and wink knowingly at the audience during some of the most quotable lines while the production opens with catwalk style vogueing from the cast by way of introduction.

Confusion and deception are the order of the day as we romp from the city to the countryside in this stylish interpretation. Jack Hardwick is exceptional as a flirty and flouncing Algernon. Hugely charismatic and convincingly charming you can’t help but root for this idle scamp. Dean Fagan’s contrastingly sensible Jack compliments Hardwick’s Algernon perfectly and the two bounce off each other offering some great comedy highlights.

Elizabeth Twells is in fine form as the determined Gwendolen. Strong and sassy she is a force to be reckoned with, the engagement scene is an absolute comedic delight while Melissa Lowe embraces the opportunity to play the brattish but ballsy Cecily with gusto.

There’s a slowing of pace during some of the scenes with Lady Bracknell, despite Sarah Balls’ authoritative performance some of her dialogue is lost due to the wordier nature of her lines in the expanse of the Albert Halls. The classic “A handbag?” however is delivered to perfection and gets the generous reaction it deserves.


Vicky Entwistle and David Cardy as Miss Prism and Dr Chasuble bring an endearing frivolity to proceedings while Dan Shearer happily carries out his instructions as the put upon butler in various stages of undress.

Act I at more than an hour and a half does have the audience shifting in their seats a little while Act II at 35 minutes absolutely sails by, something a tweak or two could easily remedy.


This stylish piece of theatre works and works well; it is fun, frivolous and delivered with a playful conviction. Another success for the Octagon Theatre in this faithful production dusted with a sprinkling of creative surprises.

Catch The Importance of Being Earnest at the Albert Hall until Saturday 15th June here.




Doctor Dolittle

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

At a time when talking to the animals seems much more appealing than talking current affairs, Doctor Dolittle’s arrival at the Lowry for the festive period couldn’t be more perfectly timed.

Writer Leslie Bricusse at the rip age of 87 has reworked his original book to bring the show more up to date adding relevance to the times we’re living in and also added an additional plot twist when it comes to the classic love story element of this tale; no spoilers here though, you’ll have to buy a ticket!

From the start Tom Piper’s bold set design transports us into the pages of a book as Dolittle’s magical journey begins. Larger than life books make for the basis of each scene as the story flows from page to stage and even across the seas.

After being taught to speak ‘animal’ by his trusty sidekick Polynesia (Vicky Entwistle), Doctor Dolittle (Mark Williams) sets sail on a nautical rescue mission in a bid to find and save the Giant pink Sea Snail. There are a few minor bumps along the way with things not quite appearing as they seem but nothing our determined Doctor can’t handle.


Mark Williams brings an enormous warmth to the Doctor and carries off the role with great charm and charisma. Vicky Entwistle gives Polynesia a delightful Northern twang and gifts our feathered friend with heaps and heaps of personality.

Mollie Melia-Redgrave is a delight as Emma Fairfax while Patrick Sullivan has a star quality magnetism which ensures their scenes together are an absolute joy.

Special mention must also go to Thom Ryan who takes on the role of young Tommy Stubbins, he shines on stage and brings a real youthful energy to proceedings.

The puppetry work here really is the star of the show with each and every scene bringing something bigger, bolder, more colourful and even more unbelievable than the last. Puppetry designer Nick Barnes really has pulled out all the stops while kudos must also go to puppetry director Jimmy Grimes and the incredibly hard-working ensemble cast who beautifully bring each fabulous creature to life; their skill as both performers and puppeteers highly impressive.

While the book has been updated and the score includes several new songs there are still occasions where the show stutters as the pace falls a little flat, some of the big numbers feeling like they need a little more oomph; luckily these dips are only temporary and before you know it another visual treat is playing out before you.

Doctor Dolittle is a charming piece of theatre with some breathtakingly magical moments while the message of protecting and learning from the animals remains strong throughout. A traditional and visually stunning production with an important message at it’s heart, delivered in an engaging and entertaining way.

Catch Doctor Dolittle at the Lowry until Saturday 5th January tickets available here.

First look Doctor Dolittle

Have you booked your tickets yet?

Be quick as you’ve never seen anything like it!

We are absolutely loving these production shots from Doctor Dolittle which opens at The Lowry next week.

The magical musical which promises festive fun for all the family will run from Tuesday 11th December until Saturday 6th January.

Starring Harry Potter star Mark Williams at the Doctor, Corrie favourites Brian Capron as both Albert Blossom and the mighty Straight Arrow, Vicky Entwistle as trusty side-kick Polynesia while Adele Anderson (Fascinating Aïda) will be playing Lady Bellowes and Poison Arrow.

The spectacular stage show follows Doctor Dolittle on his magical adventure in pursuit of the Giant Pink Sea Snail which holds the secret of life and making the world a happier place. We’ll meet marvellous humans as well as some mighty impressive animals along the way including the Pushmi-Pullyu and the Doctor’s trusty sidekick Polynesia the Parrot. The show promises to be a thrilling Christmas treat for young and old.

Tickets are available now and can be found here.