Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Importance of Being Earnest"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark


"The Importance of Being Earnest"

by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Patrick Wang
Assistant Directed & Stage Managed by Brett Conner

Set Design by Kevin Lair
Lighting Design by Tse Wei Lim
Costume Design by Ernestina Sena

John Worthing.................................G. Zachariah White
Algernon Moncrieff....................................Kent French
Rev. Cannon Chasuble..............................Robert Astyk
Merriman/Lane...............................................Ken Flott
Lady Bracknell..........................................Sara deLima
Gwendolen Fairfax................................Jennifer Moxin
Cecily Cardew...................................Lauren Waisbren
Miss Prism.............................................Ruth Markind

First Moliere, then Oscar Wilde! Classic comedy is alive and well around Boston with two new small companies mounting admirable, gigglable shows. In Davis Square, Somerville, Pet Brick Productions (who started with Beckett's "Godot" remember) have brought "The Importance of Being Earnest" icily, unflappably, perfectly to life at The Works Theatre.

The secret of this production is its style: backbones are ramrod-straight, no one is ever hurried, and every little gesture is as precisely well rehearsed as were any of Oscar's epigrams, and about the closest to a real crisis in the lives of these urbane social butterflies is the disappearance of all the cucumber sandwiches before tea. The whole play is studded with deliciously witty details that the cast treats so airily only a tenth of them become laugh-lines, so perfectly has this style been realized.

Director Patrick Wang and his assistant Brett Connor have quite rightly concentrated their meagre means on the performers, sumptuously costumed by Ernestina Sena on Kevin Lair set that is mostly impeccably complete tea-sets and a few chairs. It is a credit to this cast that they comfortably wear their costumes and not the other way round, and they turn the thrust-stage into drawing-rooms in which everyone expects to be admired simply for being.

Those who think they know the text should go to hear it so trippingly on all these tongues, and for what will become, once again, surprises. Ken Flott, for instance, serves as both butlers, Merriman and Lane, so self-effacingly different as to seem two separate actors. And the adamantine resolve with which Kent French's Algernon Moncrieff refuses assent to the engagement of his ward Cecily (Lauren Waisbren) to Jack Worthing (G. Zachariah White) unless his own to Gwendolen Fairfax (Jennifer Moxin) is equally approved strikes genuine fire for the climax of act two.

The repressed affection between Canon Chasuble (Robert Astyk) and Miss Prism (Ruth Markind) positively steams through their haughty propriety, while Sara deLima's Lady Bracknell is less a harridan than a staunch defender of social proprieties.

And it is true, as she avers, that all chins are worn elegantly high --- on stage at least. Luckily the gigglers in the pit are under no such compuntions, and aisle-rolling, in moderation, must be tolerated in these decadent days, mustn't it.

Love,
===Anon.


"The Importance of Being Earnest" (till 29 April)
PET BRICK PRODUCTIONS
Works Theater, 255 Elm Street, Davis Square, SOMERVILLE
1(617) 642-1456

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