Directed by Shawn Douglas
Produced by Remy Bumppo think theatre
At the Greenhouse Arts Center, Chicago
Oscar Wilde quotes from The Importance of Being Earnest:
“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”
“I never travel without my diary. One must always have something sensational to read on the train.”
“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”
“I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing.”
“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”
“I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever.”
Thank God for a non-holiday classic such as a fabulous production of Oscar Wilde’s most famous comedy of manners.
Remy Bumppo think theatre has a wonderful holiday gift for theatre aficionados – The Importance of Being Earnest – one of the great plays ever written! Fulled with so many witticisms and social comments and stinging observations on humanity and society, Earnest is both hilarious and profound. Victorian manners and rules of courtship are spoofed in Wilde’s most popular play penned in 1896.
“Tell a Little Lie for Love”
When charming bachelors Jack (Paul Hurley) and Algernon (Greg Matthew Anderson), each lead double lives both inventing a brother as an excuse to get away from the obligations of home thus allowing each to enjoy their own pleasures is discovered, their social lives are threaten by their deceitfulness. Clever lies and the obstacle of Victorian manners force the bachelors into desperate and hilarious situations.
This witty and smartly constructed classic demonstrates Oscar Wilde’s biting satirical views of the hypocrisy of Victorian British society. It also establishes Wilde as a playwright deft at plotting a story. Director Shawn Douglas and dialect coach Kathy Logelin have the cast speaking and timing Wilde’s stinging dialogue to perfection. Casting David Darlow as the bittersweet Lady Bracknell was a bold choice that worked nicely as Darlow delivered the old lady’s quips with a stirring bite. The entire cast’s comic timing was spot-on as they allowed Wilde’s meaning to understood and to sink in.
I have never witnessed finer work from Greg Matthew Anderson than his charming performance as Algernon. He has the swagger and charisma to command the stage. Paul Hurley marvelously played the haggled Jack. Linda Gilum had that mischievous sparkle in her eye as Gwendolen, Jack or Ernest’s love interest. Kelsey Brennan’s Cecily and Annabel Armour’s Miss Prism as well as Ted Hoerl’s Rev. Chasuble each contributed excellent work as the comedy of manners unfolded with whimsical aplomb. Richard and Jacqueline Penroid’s opulent set and Melissa Torchia’s elegant Victorian costumes gave the work a rich flavor.
This romantic comedy garnered laughs and admiration from the audience as an example of how great writing in the hands of an intelligently skilled cast – fully understanding and appreciating the work – can result in a jaw-dropping wonderful theatrical experience. This is world-class theatre that needs to be seen by aspiring actors and lovers of richly textured classical theatre.
At the Greenhouse Arts Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, tickets $40- $45 – $5- -$55, Wednesdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with 2 intermissions, through January 9, 2011
Between the Lines
The Importance of Being Earnest: December 11, 2010 @ 1:30pm
Remy Bumppo’s Between the Lines events are offered once per play as part of a special Saturday matinee. The event features guest experts sharing their insights the play in a pre-show discussion. After the performance, the speakers then join the audience once again after the play for a post-show question and answer session.
Todd Bauer has taught British and American drama at the Newberry Library for the past ten years. Last year he directed a program entitled Pinter & Perspective in which he explored the power dynamics in Pinter’s The Birthday Party, by casting both disabled and non-disabled actors. Currently he is the visiting artist with Visible Theatre in New York, for which an NEA Challenge America Grant was awarded. He is also a playwright, and received a residency at the Ragdale foundation for 2008. A staged reading of his play Downsizing Camus recently took place at the Biograph Theater.