Review "The Importance of Being Earnest": Wildely Entertaining!

Remy Bumppo presents

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln
Written by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Shawn Douglass
Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2:30pm
Additional matinees scheduled
Thru January 9th
BUY TICKETS

Running Time:  Two hours and twenty minutes with two ten minute intermissions

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

SWF ISO EARNEST.  Women want a man that calls himself Earnest.  If the name doesn't fit, her affections may dwindle.  Remy Bumppo presents THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.  Gwendolyn loves Earnest.  Jack is Earnest.  Jack's fictitious brother is also Earnest.  Cecily loves Jack's brother.  Algeron pretends to be brother Earnest.  Having used aliases to avoid responsibilities, Jack and Algeron are now trapped in alter ego implosions.   The girls want Earnest.  Can these guys be Earnest?  Secret identities and invisible friends lead to double the comedy in Oscar Wilde's classic satire, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. 

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In 1895, Oscar Wilde premiered his double life farce with double-talking brilliance.  Each deliberately chosen word combines with other words for crafted phrased witticisms.   Under Shawn Douglass' direction, double entendres are actualized to perfection.  With the Wilde-Douglas combination, the cast is making word love for a hysterically, pleasurable romp.  Leading the laughing frenzy, Greg Matthew Anderson (Algernon) plays bored playboy with flamboyant candor.  Anderson is so smooth-talking wicked that an opening night prop malfunction seems planned.  The straight guy in their comedic duo, Paul Hurley (Jack) IS earnest as a man caught in a lie.  From his entrance, David Darlow (Lady Bracknell) is outrageously funny!  In a dress and feathers, Darlow delivers philosophical nonsense with prim, tight-lipped authority.  With raised eyebrows, Linda Gillum (Gwendolen) makes declarations of life and love with hilarious artificial sincerity.   Gillum and Kelsey Brennan (Cecily) have a highly amusing cat fight without raising their voices over tea.   Annabel Armour (Prism) is marvelous as the uptight, proper governess with her own secret desires.  What's funnier? How's it said? Or what's said? Is it Wilde's words, Douglass' direction, or the cast's interpretations?  TRIFECTA!  I laughed... a lot!

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The show zips at such a tight pace that each intermission is unexpected and unnecessary.  Instead of needing a break, we choose to stay in the theatre and watch the butler-dressed stagehands.   Scenic designers Richard and Jacqueline Penrod have created three spectacularly distinct Victorian-era rooms.  In fascinating synchronization, the butler crew pulls secret cabinet doors for a pop-up card transformation.  The third act is actually the inside-out version of the second act.  The exquisite scenery detail mingled with aristocratic period piece clothing transports to a pleasurable world of genuine pretend.  I'm being completely earnest when I say not to miss Remy Bumppo's The Importance of Being Earnest.  It'll be one of the best gifts you will receive this season!

"I don't regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure.  I did it to the full, as one should do everything that one does.  There was not pleasure I did not experience."  -Oscar Wilde from prison for sodomy, 1897.

Always adding to my pleasure, James: "Wilde about Earnest!" Jen:  "Excellently executed interactions"
 
Production photography courtesy of Johnny Knight.

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  • I saw it opening night. The mistake is wanting so much to share it with friends at the intermissions. That means I have to go back to see the complete scene changes. I knew they would be great but only watched for a short time. Best show Ive seen in years.

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