PICKSINSIX Review: The Importance of Being Earnest
"Ah! A life crowded with incident..."
What’s it about … Oscar Wilde’s hilarious unraveling of the double lives of two men who unsuspectingly propose to two women who will settle for none other than an ‘Earnest(ly)’ named gentleman.
How does the story unfold... With the aristocratic rogue Algernon Moncrieff(Steve Haggard) wondering where his next — and indeed, greatest — ‘Bunbury’ excursion will take him, his love-struck friend Ernest (Alex Goodrich) is forced to confide that he is in actuality ‘Jack’ Worthing in the country. There resides his lovely ward, Cecily Cardew(Rebecca Hurd), under the watchful eye of the matronly Miss Prism(Anita Chandwaney) and the well-intentioned Reverend Chasuble(Aaron Todd Douglas). After confessing his love and proposing marriage to Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen Fairfax(Jennifer Latimore), Jack is denied the privilege by her mother, the imposing Lady Bracknell(Shannon Cockran). Undaunted, he proceeds to hatch a plan to rid himself of his alter ego in the country, radify his lineage and thereby win Gwendolen’s hand. Things go quickly awry leading to an uproariously funny series of surprises with more than a few satisfying resolutions.
Who stands out... This is a superbly paced, colorful and visually stunning production with Wilde’s rich observations on society and stature streaming through Cockran’s blustering turn as Lady Bracknell who with Hurd and Latimore, are picture perfect. The contrast between Haggard’s dashing and clever Algernon and Goodrich’s staunch, be mused Jack, makes for a wildly entertaining evening. In the dual roles of Lane and Merriman, Ross Lehman performance is hilarious.
Brilliant design... The three compact acts have distinctly different textural and color patterns, lavish majestic columns and rich stone framework in a brilliant Collette Pollard design that with Mara Blumenfeld’s elegant costumes provides a fashionable turn-of-the-century backdrop in the Montcrieff study, the Worthing manor house garden and the morning-room at the Manor House.
A Wilde adventure... Writers Theatre has established an extensive audience engagement program initiative that provides discussion events with artists, educational outreach opportunities and many other activities for interested students and patrons.
What you may not know... Writers is also working with the Chicago Public Schools to conduct in-class student sessions and have made multiple performances available to students in support of their educational mission. A very worthy enterprise, indeed.