“The Importance of Being Earnest” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ October 14, 2013


Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Theatre Company mounts a sublime “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Oscar Wilde’s delicious comedy of manners that slaps and bangs 1895 aristocracy and their nose-in-the-air snotty superiority that made them so impossible to be around.

The production is staged crisply and with wonderfully mannered arrogance by ATC’s associate artistic director Stephen Wrentmore.  Yoon Bae’s excessively elegantly costumes and her fanciful but beautiful historical period settings make the production a feast for the eye.  But most importantly, ATC has gathered a flawless cast who create viable characters with the perfect arrogance Wilde expected when these characters were etched almost 120 years ago in 1895 when this classic comedy first appeared on stage in London.  Considered Wilde’s finest play, productions are mounted frequently but rarely are they as accomplished and delightfully comic as this exemplary production.

The ridiculously silly show looks at rich folks who relish their affluent lifestyle.  A few servants and support staff add further mayhem as the main characters flaunt their pretentiousness and the accompanying arrogance it affords them.  The dialogue flows trippingly fast and loose as Algernon and Jack woo Gwendolen and Cecily even as a myriad of ridiculous obstacles challenge them.  The silly impediments never threaten anyone but everyone worries what others might think.

The final challenge comes when Algernon and Jack learn that Gwendolen and Cecily can only love and marry men named Earnest.  Into all this stupidity, comes Gwendolen’s snobby mother, Lady Bracknell, who transfers her uppity arrogance and uptight foolishness to everyone.  After much comic dalliance and myriad hysterical antics, everything works out to no one’s surprise.

Cecily’s governess, Miss Prism, and the starchy Reverend Chasuble add further merriment.  Even though it is extremely trivial the enchanting comedy of manners style brings such elegant sophistication and is so delectably presented here that the show becomes, as it should, a delightful reverie.

Matt Leisy’s luscious Algernon and Loren Dunn’s exceedingly proper Jack are drolly artful.  Anneliese Van Der Pol’s bubbly Gwendolen and Heather Marie Cox’s effervescent Cecily flounce about with egotistical superiority.  Allyce Beasley’s Lady Bracknell is appropriately comical as she runs with staunch seriousness to make the character’s absurdities and misunderstandings enchanting.  Jodie Lynne McClintock’s Miss Prism is delightfully blustery and prim.  Mike Lawler handles two small roles with clever simplicity that is charming.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” is produced often but it is rarely staged with such utter perfection as is ATC’s delightful production that continues at through October 27.  For tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order tickets online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: A

One Response to ““The Importance of Being Earnest” – Arizona Theatre Company”

  1. Chris Curcio said:

    Mar 05, 14 at 14:00

    Unfortunately, I do not read or understand the French language so I am not willing to post your commnets without translation. If you can translate your commnets into English and resubmit them, I will gladly post them.