What a wit was Wilde. And what a pleasure it is to see the impeccable production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest as presented by The Roundabout Theatre Company.
Yes, impeccable. There is no better word to describe this handsome, superbly acted and brilliantly directed exhibition of verbal pyrotechnics that Oscar Wilde created in 1895 that is as timely today as it was then.
From the blissfully befuddled yet sharp as a tack performance of Lady (Aunt Augusta) Bracknell by Mr. Brian Bedford where a mere glance or glare can upstage the delightful dialogue of Mr. Wilde, right down to the small curl atop Santino Fontana’s mischievous head as Algernon this revival of Wilde’s comedy of mistaken identities, double identities, diaries, lost satchels, class, wickedness, propriety, love and marriage is perfection personified.
Wilde was a master of the written word. And Mr. Brian Bedford is master of the art of acting and directing. One can see in almost every character on stage bits of Mr. Bedford. And that is a very good thing indeed. He is surrounded by one of the finest cast of actors who do supreme justice to this very funny play.
The plot grows increasingly complicated as John (Jack) Worthing (David Furr) pursues Gwendolen (Sara Topham) daughter of Lady Bracknell – who runs a very tight ship – (Brian Bedford) seeking her hand in marriage. Only she thinks he is Earnest, brother of Jack as he is Earnest in London; Jack in the country where his ward Cecily (Charlotte Parry) under the tutelage of Miss Prism (Dana Ivey) who is smitten with the Rev. Canon Chasuble (Paxton Whitehead) lives and where John’s best friend Algernon (Santino Fontana) arrives as Earnest and falls head over heels in love with Cecily. He too has a split personality disorder in the guise of Bunbury – (an invalid whose name could have had Wilde censored) – an assumed identity that he uses to escape duty and dinners to have some wicked fun. All of this results in cascades of laughter.
The three acts of The Importance of Being Earnest fly by all too quickly in this impeccable production which is a delight to the eye (set & costume design by Desmond Heeley) as well as the ear (Oscar Wilde).
Everyone should see this fantastic stylish theatrical event which will be hard to top. Bless Brian Bedford for keeping the traditions of well structured, well written and well acted theatre alive and well.
www.roundabouttheatre.org Photo: Joan Marcus
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