1999: The Importance of Being Earnest
In 1999, Artistic Director Andrew Welch invited Patricia Routledge to play the role of Lady Bracknell in a revival of Oscar Wilde’s comedy The Importance of Being Earnest. Routledge had a long association with CFT but had turned down the role for over twenty years because of its association with the actress Edith Evans. She eventually joined the cast, citing the opportunity to work with director Christopher Morahan.
The production is widely considered the biggest success of Andrew Welch's five year tenure as Artistic Director. It was presented to the Queen Mother on 4 August for her 99th birthday, transferring to the Theatre Royal Haymarket then on an Australian tour (2000) and finally a run at The Savoy Theatre (2001). The play has only been produced one other time by CFT, twenty years previously in 1979 with Googie Withers and Ian Ogilvy. Touring productions also appeared at CFT in 1991 (starring Penelope Keith) and 2007.
The Importance of Being Earnest 1999, photographer Clive Barda
The Importance of Being Earnest 1979, photographer Sophie Baker
The Importance of Being Earnest 1991, touring production starring Penelope Keith