THE director of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Barn Theatre saved the day by stepping into his own production as the lead role.

With lead actor Ryan Bennett unable to perform, director Bryan Hodgson raced back to Cirencester on the day of the performance on Thursday to step into the role of Graham de Hare.

Bryan had just a few hours of rehearsals on the stage before he made his debut in the role, which saw him play some of Oscar Wilde’s beloved characters such as Lady Bracknell, Cecily Cardew and the title character, Ernest.

The story follows stage manager (Kevin McKinnon) and producer (Graham de Hare) as they step into an amateur production of The Importance of Being Earnest when they are forced to perform when their cast have not arrived.

The situation of a director having to then take over one of these roles perfectly reflected the premise of this production.

In an interview with Riverside Radio, Hodgson had joked that he would have to go on if one of the cast was not available and said that he 'doesn’t know it that well'.

The performance ended up being a resounding success with even an audience member commenting on Facebook, “We have just come back from seeing tonight's performance and I have to say how overwhelmed I am at how superb it was!

"Both Aidan and Bryan were superb. Couldn't believe Bryan only stepped in at the last minute today. We thoroughly recommend. Completely transported for a couple of hours.”

Bryan Hodgson said: “It was the most surreal time I’ve ever had!

"The entire company were so supportive, and got me through it with smiles and hugs.

"The actual show was a hoot - especially being able to actually present the concept of the show in real life - someone having to step into the show about someone having to step into the show with only a moments notice. Art imitating life, or life imitating art eh?

"My favourite moment was the sass that seemed to just burst out of me in the Cecily and Gwendolen scene - I mean, it got vicious - there must be a terrifying diva inside me somewhere that’s clawing to get out!

"The whole thing was such fun, and I’ve now slept for twelve hours with lots of muscles aching, but it was worth it.

"And to finally quote Elaine Stritch; I wore my own shoes!”

Bryan again reprised the role of Graham de Hare on Friday with the production now transferring to London’s Turbine Theatre from 19 – 29 February.