From the perspective of a theater director, the opportunity to direct Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a true privilege and delight. The 1885 comedy of manners from the Irish-born, Victorian playwright is a touchstone of humor in English literature of the stage.
The sheer joy of the tongue-in-cheek critique of the pretensions of the “elites” of late 19th-century English society point fingers right back at the polarized culture wars we are experiencing in 21st century America.
I believe the true heroes of this fun farce are the characters of Algernon and Cecily, who state quite plainly the self-centeredness of the artifice of their discourse. Meanwhile, Lady Bracknell, Jack, Gwendolyn, and even Miss Prism and Dr. Chausible hold up sanitized cultural veneers and untruths as foundations of their communities.
It is not hard to see the sentiments of the middle-class playwright from Ireland as he attempts to carve out a place for himself in the high society of Queen Victoria’s London. Often, many of the things to which we all aspire appear empty when their true natures are exposed. Exposing them to hilarious ends is the genius of Wilde in Earnest.
One of the finest casts Fort Wayne could produce has gathered to create together this comedic confection. Aaron Mann as Algernon, Chance Parker as Jack, Kate Black as Lady Bracknell, Laura Laudeman as Gwendolyn, Kelly Maloney as Cecily, Marsha Wallace as Miss Prism, and Scott Rumage as Dr. Chausible are joined by their trusty butlers Brian Hill as Lane and Nate Hunt as Merriman.
Coupled with the fine design staff at First Presbyterian Theater, The Importance of Being Earnest promises to be a fun, fitting kickoff to the 2019-20 Fort Wayne theater season.