Sandy Richens Cohrs, Richard Ray, Ann S. Waterman & Josh O’Brien in
The Importance of Being Earnest.
Photo-As Yet Unnamed Theatre Co.
The Importance of Being Earnest
By Oscar Wilde
Directed by Gary Tipton
Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley
Entire contents are copyright © 2014, Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.
Anyone with a passing knowledge of theater is familiar with The Importance of Being Earnest. Arguably Oscar Wilde’s most familiar and beloved piece, it’s a comedy of manners that never seems to get old, and the As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company has given it a rousing new staging at the MeX.
Under the skillful direction of Gary Tipton, the lively production mostly hits all the right marks as it tells the story of Algernon and Jack (Jeremy O’Brien and Josh O’Brien), two gentlemen who both use a fictitious alter ego to hide their libertine activities. In typical farcical fashion, their lives get complicated when the ruse gets in the way of their romances: Jack is in love with Algy’s cousin Gwendolen (Charlotte Boyd), and Algy with Jack’s ward Cecily (Christine O’Hara).
Tipton has coaxed some very nice performances from his cast. Both O’Brien brothers are a delight as the two leading gents, with spot-on British accents in tow. Charlotte Boyd is lovely as Gwendolen, exuding a cheerful optimism and youthful beauty that makes her character the most sympathetic in the piece. Christine O’Hara isn’t quite as successful as Cecily, playing the young woman as if she were a precocious six-year-old. It’s not a bad performance, but an odd choice.
In the supporting roles, Niles Welch, Andrew McGill, and Howard Whitman make the most of their brief appearances as a manservant, a debt collector, and a butler, respectively. Whitman gives a particularly nice flourish in his hunched, arthritic portrayal that is quite funny.
Ann S. Waterman well-plays the fluster and confusion of the dotty governess Miss Prism, and it’s cute to watch her flirtations with the Reverend Chasuble (a nicely upbeat Richard Ray). And as the play’s most memorable and formidable character, Lady Bracknell, Sandy Richens Cohrs dominates every scene she’s in with a force-of-nature performance.
Tipton and his cast keep the action moving and I didn’t notice any technical issues. I did notice some of the more familiar dialogue was missing; whether there were intentional cuts or just accidentally skipped lines I couldn’t say, but there was no noticeable fumbling. It is a long show, especially after intermission when they run the second and third acts together.
If you’re a fan of classic theater, or even if you just like your comedy with a little sophistication, this production should be right up your alley, and I highly recommend it.
The Importance of Being Earnest
Featuring Charlotte Boyd, Sandy Richens Cohrs, Andrew McGill, Jeremy O’Brien, Josh O’Brien, Christine O’Hara, Richard Ray, Ann S. Waterman, Niles Welch, and Howard Whitman.
August 29, 30, September 5, 6, 2014 @ 8:00pm
August 31 & September 7, 2014 @ 2:30pm
As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company
At The MeX
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
[box_light]Craig Nolan Highley has been active in local theatre as an actor, director and producer for more than 12 years. He has worked with Bunbury Theater, Clarksville Little Theatre, Finnigan Productions, Louisville Repertory Company, Savage Rose Classical Theatre, and WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre among others. He has been a member of the Wayward Actors Company since 2006, and currently serves as their Board President. Craig’s reviews have also appeared in TheatreLouisville and Louisville Mojo.[/box_light]