Photos by Azure Photography
The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Directed by John Pszyk
February 21-24, 2019
Shawn Stalter, Contributing Critic - Dallas/Ft. Worth:
Wandernook Theatre brought Oscar Wilde’s, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” to life with well-crafted dialogue, authentic costuming and grace which paid homage to this beloved tale highlighting the absurdities of courtship, class--and earnestness--in Victorian-era high society.
Set in England in the late 1800s, “The Importance of Being Earnest” explores the double lives of two friends, John (Jack) Worthing, skilfully performed by Stephen Long, and Algernon Moncrieff as imagined by the dynamic Jared Duncan. Through his alternate persona, Ernest, Jack enjoys an escape from responsibilities as steward of his young ward, Cecily Cardew, played by the exuberant Melanie Baxter. Similarly, an imaginary acquaintance, the invalid Bunbury, offers Algernon an excuse to avoid cumbersome social obligations. Much to the audience’s enjoyment, both men’s desires to paint the town red through their alter egos collide headlong as Jack pursues marital bliss with Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax, as embodied by the effervescent Chloe Stout.
Director John Pszyk’s interpretation of this classic work upheld the nuance and charm of the original without attempting to skew the content or exaggerate the characters; a refreshing counterbalance to many contemporary productions who create caricatures in an attempt to draw in modern audiences. With fidelity, the talented Wandernook Theatre cast allowed the original material to flourish through well-timed dialogue, gorgeous costuming and well-developed characters.
The stage design for this production was simple but sufficient to transport the audience from the parlor to the garden and all points beyond without detracting from the action. Although the first act took a few moments to gain its footing, the production found solid ground by the second act and drew the audience in for a hilariously combustible collision of personalities.
Ivy Opdyke’s performance as Lady Bracknell was the true highlight of the show. Her capricious attitude as she grills Jack on matters of income, family history--and more--was uproariously entertaining. Additionally, her commanding stage presence and masterly-timed fourth wall breaks gained rapport with the audience and gave the production a well-polished quality.
Overall, this is a praise-worthy production of a beloved classic; it delightfully cracks the thin veneer of high-mindedness and civility which defined Victorian-era high society.
The Addams Family Musical
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Amanda Durbin
Musical Direction by Jared Duncan
June 21-30, 2019