Cucumber Sandwiches, lost handbags and mistaken identity that is Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in a nutshell. The Importance of Being Earnest is by and far one of the funniest plays ever written. I have seen productions that make you laugh until your sides hurt, and I have seen productions that let you have a nice proper chuckle. Then there are productions that fall in between the two.
Southwestern Theatre Department is currently staging a great production of this classic English comedy. The production at Southwestern is one of those productions that happily falls between falling over laughing and a polite giggle. The direction is solid and well thought thanks to director Paul Gaffney with assistance by Savannah Coleman. The blocking is done in the round and works well for this production there are no blind spots and the actors have been coached appropriately for this style.
The cast is entirely comprised of students from the Sarofim School of the Arts at Southwestern University. This works out perfectly for the most part. Brock Boudoin as Algernon Moncrieff is charming, and over the top exactly the character Oscar Wilde created in his text. Noah Kopit, brings a handsome and sophisticated John Worthing to the mix. Kopit is creates a believable double and sometimes triple life in his portrayal of “Earnest.”
The Ladies of the cast are top notch bringing humor and sassy fun that is properly proper for this Victorian classic! Gwendolen Fairfax played by Keaton Patterson is pretty smart and not always a proper English lady, but she represents all of the ideals that Oscar Wilde was making fun of when he wrote this play. Ally Oliphint as Cecily Cardew is doe eyed and sweet, but shows her teeth well when she needs to protect her man. Oliphint is a brilliant actress and her work shows. There is one character that feels out of sync with the rest of the cast, Joan Milburn in the role of Lady Bracknell feels out of place. Milburn is a young lady a pretty and talented young lady but a young lady in the role made for someone three times her senior. Milburn is a good actress but she comes across as phony and not believable due to her age which we all know is beyond her control.
This is a very good production of a difficult play from a different era. You should take the time to see this show while you still can! I give this show a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The Importance Of Being Earnest runs through November 22, 2015 For more information check out the Saraofim School of the Arts Box Office http://www.southwestern.edu/departments/theatre/resources/boxoffice.php