OSCAR Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest has been described as the most perfectly plotted and written comedy. Impressive though this is, it can create a problem for the actors who have to perform it.

Being so familiar, and with a failsafe script, it’s one of those plays where the pressure on the actual performance is greater than ever.

A poor production cannot be blamed on the script, it is purely down to the director and actors. Fortunately, Bolton Octagon chose well in director Suba Das and the immaculate cast.

Wisely, Das opted for a traditional setting but included innovations which were neither jarring or gimmicky.

Acts were introduced by what I can only describe as balletic vogueing, and the occasional use of photographic poses was clever and witty.

Sarah Ball made a refreshingly more youthful Lady Bracknell than is usually presented. No one-dimensional ancient ogress, she was pin-sharp, acute and shrewd.

The versatile Vicky Entwistle and David Cardy were a delightful Miss Prism and Dr Chasuble. Exquisite and classy, they helped maintain the high standards of this production.

Dean Fagan was great fun as Jack Worthing and had a pleasing dynamic with Jack Hardwick, in the same way that the talented Melissa Lowe (Cecily) had with Gwendolen.

Hardwick was superb as Algernon Moncrieff. He was magically able to do camp without it being pantomimic, and at the same time was attractive to the ladies. Effete and witty, Wilde’s lines flew wonderfully well from him.

But in a masterful cast, it was Elizabeth Twells as the minx Gwendolen who was the star.

I’ve never before seen Gwendolen as such an earthy, sexual creature. Often, she’s presented as nothing more than a game-playing tease, but Twells was simply wonderful. She made the part feel contemporary and pulsing with life.

The glorious surrounds of the Albert Halls certainly added to the Victorian atmosphere; its huge organ and statues fitted in well with the upper middle-class 19th century setting of the play. However, what the venue added to the look of the production was hampered by the problem of the acoustics.

The cavernous auditorium greedily swallowed and absorbed many of the marvellous lines. At the interval there were many mumblings of disappointment and I overheard one woman saying she was going home because she could not deal with the acoustics.

The Octagon was doing the best it can under the circumstances. And much better to have Octagon productions continuing during the development of its usual home than no productions at all.

The Importance of Being Earnest runs until Saturday.