Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Play Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

Image found here: http://scenatheatre.org/EarnestHome.jpg
I love Oscar Wilde, and while I couldn't really remember much about this story (I know I saw the movie before, but it was so long ago!), I did remember that I thought it was funny and cute. This version of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Atlas Performing Arts Center did not disappoint!

Algie and Jack. Image found here.
The set was quite pretty, with white terraces, wicker furniture, a tea table, and a lovely swing with vines climbing up the ropes. The set made you feel like you were in a garden or a sun room, which was very pleasant. The play started with the two butlers, Lane and Merriman, standing at the front of a stage (which was a bit awkward, since they stood there for some time just staring at us). Then we met Algie (played by Danielle Davy) and Jack (played by Nanna Ingvarsson); immediately we realized that women are playing the male roles! So that in itself is funny. We learn that Jack, who lives in the country, goes by the name of Ernest when he's in town (so he does not ruin his reputation when he is gallivanting about; he tells the people in the country that he goes to the city to visit his brother, Ernest!). The two men are talking when we meet Lady Bracknell (played by Brian Hemmingsen), who is Algie's aunt; we also meet her daughter, Gwendolyn (played by Graham Pilato). Seeing the men playing women is even funnier! So this is the story: Jack loves Gwendolyn, but Lady Bracknell will not hear of them marrying. But the two swoon over each other, and Gwendolyn confesses that she's always wanted to be with a man named Ernest. Jack then realizes that if he wants to be with Gwendolyn, he needs to change his name to Ernest and get rid of the fake brother he has invented.
Lady Bracknell and Miss Prism. Image found here.
A parallel story continues. Algie visits Jack's home in the country under the name of Ernest (so that the household just thinks Jack's brother, whom they've never met, is in town). Here we meet Jack's ward, Cecily (played by Robert Sheire), her governess, Miss Prism (played by David Bryan Jackson), and Dr. Chasuble (played by Amie Cazel). Algie and Cecily immediately fall for each other (Algie's a scoundrel and Cecily loves the idea of a bad-boy). Jack comes home to tell the family that his brother Ernest is dead, just to find Algie is playing Ernest right there! To add to the funny mess, Gwendolyn comes to the country house, and when she meets Cecily, they find out that they are both engaged to Ernest! They realize they are not talking about the same person, and once the whole cast is back on stage, the truth comes out about their real names, who they really are, etc. But all ends well and both couples get to be together. The end!

Gwendolyn and Cecily. Image found here.
The actors were very good, and I laughed the whole way through. The characters of Gwendolyn and Cecily were a bit over-the-top, but I think that's what made them so hysterical! Combine the great acting, the funny situations, and the incredibly clever writing of Oscar Wilde, and you've got an amazing show! 5 stars!

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