OSCAR Wilde and Christmas are becoming a familiar combination at the small but perfectly formed Greenwich Playhouse.

Last year saw the acclaimed Galleon Theatre Company stage a Yuletide production of the Irish playwright’s whimsical Importance of Being Earnest and this season sees the turn of Wilde’s A Woman Of No Importance to receive a festive makeover by director Bruce Jamieson.

The play sees us in familiar Wilde territory, exploring the secrets and hypocrisy of the upper classes.

The melodramatic story of Mrs Arbuthnot and her long concealed secret of a child conceived out of wedlock, has a much more serious edge to it than works such as Earnest, exposing society’s double standards in its treatment of women at the time.

Originally staged in 1893, the action is transposed to a Christmas party at the end of the 1950s.

Intended to free Wilde’s story from the anachronistic chains of its Victorian setting, while remaining at a time when its themes were still relevant, in the end this spot of time travelling adds very little to a play which lacks a clear direction.

Wilde’s main mistake is the devotion in the first act and a half to the expected sharp and witty dialogues, while neglecting the real drama until the end of the second half of the second act.

As a result, the piece is a confused mix of comedy and drama and lacks momentum.

However, despite the play’s weaknesses, it is a perfectly executed production, which again proves the Galleon Theatre Company’s exceptional ability to deliver larger than life theatre in the smallest of spaces.

The play is also saved from mediocrity by its impressive cast.

Mary Lincoln is outstanding as the scorned Mrs Arbuthnot and Kevin Marchant also delivers a strong performance as Lord Illingworth.

While Darrie Gardner is delightful as the wonderfully eccentric Lady Caroline.

It is testament to Galleon’s determined ambition as a theatre company that one of Wilde’s weakest plays has been transformed into one of the area’s strongest alternatives to panto this Christmas.

A Woman Of No Importance. Greenwich Playhouse, Greenwich High Road, Greenwich. Until January 16. Call 020 8858 9256 or email boxoffice@galleontheatre.co.uk