Review of The Importance of Being Earnest
By Oscar Wilde
Directed by Jason Edington
Cloverdale Performing Arts Center
For tickets / schedule :
www.cloverdaleperformingarts.com
Cloverdale Performing Arts Center

RUN: May 13 – May 22, 2016
RATING: 3 of 5 stars

(May 14, 2016)

Photo by John Gobeille

Photo by John Gobeille

The Importance of Being Earnest crackles with wit; I have seen it staged more times than I can count, and it remains highly diverting. Oscar Wilde reveals the triviality of upper classes with devastating effect, while presenting characters who are easy to fall in love with. Cloverdale’s cast enunciates clearly, and hits most of the right beats that are crucial to Wilde’s cheetah paced dialogue.

Photo by John Gobeille

Photo by John Gobeille

Costume Designer Holly Werner brings the early 20th century to life with billowing sleeves, clean lined Edwardian skirts, and outrageous hats that reflect both the time period and personalities of the wearers. Creating historical costumes for theatre is no easy feat; I have seen it badly done indeed, and it is refreshing to see fairly accurate designs. Shawn Olney’s set designs are elegant, although the scene changes took rather long. The garden is worth the wait, using live rose boxes scattered about the stage.

Jonathan Graham as Jack Worthing keeps his poise, until his friend eating muffins in such an alarming manner sets him off, causing hilarity. He is adept at Wilde’s rhythm, and an excellent Jack Worthing. His partner in bunburying, Dan Stryker as Algernon Moncrieff, flounces in full Algie fashion, consuming everything in sight, and enjoying himself immensely. He struggles with the accent, but is so likeable as the character, that it is possible to overlook. The two beauties, Nichole Phillips as Gwendolen Fairfax and Corey Sceales as Cecily Cardew, are true English roses. Cecily is portrayed with genuine youthful fervor, and Gwendolen, although unsure of where to put her hands in some scenes, has a confident allure.

Diana Grogg as Lady Bracknell and Janet M. Denninger as Miss Prism need more rehearsal time, and hesitate over the lines, but Dee Dee Robbins’ Lane and Jeff Terauds’ Merriman are stoic and deliberate in their delivery as the “straight man” butlers within a whirlwind of wit.

Despite an uneven cast, this is one of the better productions I have seen. The Importance of Being Earnest at Cloverdale Performing Arts Center is charming, bringing Edwardian manners on stage with accomplished style thanks to Jason Edington’s skillful stage direction.