Monday, April 20, 2015
BEING EARNEST IS DEFINITELY IMPORTANT
MICHAEL RAVER (JACK), JANE BRADLEY (GWENDOLEN), LAURA HANKIN (CECILY) AND JAMES PARENTI (ALGERNON) PHOTO BY RICH WAGNER
If you treat all things trivial with seriousness and all things serious with triviality and eat a mountain of cucumber sandwiches in the process, you'll be in the proper frame of mind for Oscar Wilde's comedy of postures and manners "The Importance of Being Earnest." Set in Victorian London and environs, it will be poised in all its polite prettiness, and a little pettiness, at the West Hartford's Playhouse on Park until Sunday, May 3.
Deceptions run amok with delightfully dire consequences when the utterly respectable Jack Worthing (Michael Raver) resides in the country at his estate in Hertfordshire. Adopted as a mere babe, he commands a responsible role as a guardian to Cecily Cardew (Laura Hankin), the sweetly fair of face granddaughter of the late Thomas Cardew. As a landowner of note, Jack must maintain an attitude of modesty and propriety.
When this guise of proper gentleman threatens to choke him, Jack uses an imaginary and disreputable brother Ernest as an alibi to flee the constraints of the countryside and abscond to London for a little scandalous behavior, claiming it is "Ernest" who is at fault.
Jack's best friend Algernon (James Parenti) knows him as Ernest and does not discern the "double life" Jack/Ernest is leading. He, in fact, has his own deceitful character, an invalid named Bunbury, who conveniently calls him to his deathbed whenever a pesky social obligation needs to be excised. When Jack confides in Algernon that he is about to propose to the lovely Gwendolen (Jane Bradley), Algernon's cousin, he finds a wall of resistence from Algie as well as from Gwen's mama, the formidable and opinionated Lady Bracknell (Katrina Ferguson).
Complications tumble out of control when Algernon decides to invade his friend's country home in order to make the acquaintance of the sweet as sugar Cecily, a maiden who forces him to fall madly and instantly in love. Miss Prism (Donna Schilke) as Cecily's governess and Mr. Chasuble (David Farrington) as the community religious leader entertain their own romantic allusions, while the proper English butler (Harrison Greene) serves tea and sandwiches. Love letters, diaries, a cigarette case, a large black pocketbook and adorable fascinators (hats) pop up to add to the merry mix ups that abound. Jerry Winters directs this thoroughly entertaining foray into Oscar Wilde's zany world , with a sturdy troupe of skilled performers.
For tickets ($25-35), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at www.playhouseonpark.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.and Sunday at 2 p.m. (with talk back with cast after show).
Discover for yourself the importance of being earnest, when two young gentlemen become romantically entangled with two determined ladies who categorically refuse to marry anyone whose name is not Ernest.