Georgia Shakespeare’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Sabin Epstein, offers an enjoyable vacation from the summer heat. The production features dazzling costumes by Christine Turbitt, a simple, but graceful set by Angela Balogh Calin, and a talented cast.
Considered one of Wilde’s greatest works, this satire of Aristocratic Victorian London is a farce full of mistaken identities, sharp plot twists and physical humor. It begins with John (Joe Knezevich) admitting to Algernon (Caleb Clark) that Ernest is an invented person to escape his social duties in the Country. Algernon also admits to creating a fictitious person who he visits in the country to escape London for similar reasons.
With this visit John is in London to propose to Gwendolyn Fairfax (Courtney Patterson), who is in love with Earnest, especially because of his name. After he proposes, John decides to “kill off” Ernest. However, things get complicated when another Ernest shows up at John’s estate and falls in love with Cecily Cardew (Ann Marie Gideon), John’s ward. Hilarity then ensues as the true identity of Ernest is uncovered.
As John, or Ernest, Knezevich gives one of his finer performances. His portrayal of the character is quite memorable, and he plays off the characters well to create humorous moments. As his friend Algernon, Clark gives a strong performance as the selfish, unscrupulous character.
Patterson’s Gwendolyn personifies the style, sophistication and subtly that are perfect for the role. She displays considerable poise and comedic talent. Likewise, Gideon, as Cecily, creates a delightful mix of innocent curiosity and complexity. Together, these ladies steal the show.
Much like recent productions, the theater has cast a man in the role as Lady Bracknell. Mark Cabus plays the domineering, snobbish characteristics well. His attempts to deliver the sharp absurd lines the character speaks fall a little flat at times.
The Importance of Being Earnest is an entertaining production that will delight audience. It plays in repertory with Illyria: a Twelfth Night Musical and Much Ado About Nothing through August 5. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is around two hours and 45 minutes with two intermissions.
– Kenny Norton