BWW Reviews: Queer Classics THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Finds New Meaning in the Classic Script
Queer Classics re-imagines one of the most popular comedic plays ever written - Oscar Wilde's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST by presenting the four lovers in the story as dashing gay men. Director Casey Kringlen brings this sassy comedy to the Hollywood Fringe Festival for five performances only at the Let Live Theatre at The Actors Company during the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Two couples fight for the right to be engaged in this masterful satire written by Oscar Wilde, arrested in 1895 for "gross indecency with men." This timeless story gallivants through a world obsessed with appearances, money and social status. The parallels with today's Hollywood culture make for searing fun, and by presenting the four lovers as gay men, Queer Classics presents the play in a more hysterically fabulous fashion than Wilde could have imagined possible in his lifetime.
The cast features (in alphabetical order) Eric DeLoretta, Jeff Elam, Grant Jordan, Nancy La Scala, Mason McCulley, Philip Orazio, Boone Platt, and Megan Soule. Each of these talented actors mined new meaning into the script, creating more laughter throughout the play than I have ever experienced before.
Now that everyone has the legal right to marry, it's timely for the play to be performed the way Wilde would have loved it done. However funny it is to have two men play Cecily and Gwendolyn as very feminine gay men, I think it might serve the actors better to have called them Cecil and Glen. The again, the play is all about misnamed characters so who am I to hint at changing them?
Algernon (the more flamboyant and hysterically funny Philip Orazio) and Jack (Boone Platt) are best friends who are attempting to marry to men of their dreams. Standing in their way is Lady Bracknell (Nancy La Scala, playing it up like a drag queen), Algernon's aunt, who first looks at society and money before love. When she finds out Jack has nothing to his name, she forbids her son Gwendolen (lovely poser Mason McCulley) to marry him. Cecily (Grant Jordan) is the ward of Jack, and he has fallen for Algernon (who he thinks is named Earnest) before ever meeting him. And of course, Algernon flips for him at their first meeting. Will Jack allow that marriage to take place?
Then of course there is the issue of the name Earnest which Algernon uses as his "country" name and Jack uses as the name of his imaginary brother. Since both Gwendolyn and Cecily believe they are each engaged to a man named Earnest, just how will they feel about their intended once the ruse is discovered? I can tell you the scene played between four men added an abundance of new laughs to the situation!
Ms. Prism (Megan Soule) and Dr. Chasuble (Jeff Elam) are the oldest straight couple in the show, but of course Chasuble must first give up his religious belief in chastity before their relationship can move beyond friendship. The two are adorable together with Prism turning into a young schoolgirl around him, then turning back into her role as tutor to Cecily with just a turn of her head and change in her vocal tone. And how is it that something Prism did 28 years ago could possibly help the lovers succeed in their goal to wed? Soule's cowering confession allows all the loose ends to be tied into a beautiful wedding gift bow.
Lane and Merriman are played by Eric Deloretta, with the flamboyant showoff Lane attending to Algernon's needs (and visual stimulation) in Algie's London flat while the more conservative Merriman tends to Lady Bracknell in her country estate.
All the men add a fun sense of gay pride to their roles, working it for all its worth every time they lay across a couch, tap each other on the butt, or cross their legs showing off a sexy ankle. They take flirting skill into the stratosphere!
The remaining 3 performance of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST are on Sunday 6/15 at 5:30pm; Thursday 6/19 at 8:30pm; and Sunday 6/22 at 11am. Running time is 90 minutes. Tickets are $10 for all performances and may be obtained online at http://hff14.org/1829 or by phone at (323) 455-4585.
The Let Live Theatre at the Actors Company is located at 916 N. Formosa Avenue in Los Angeles, 90036. Street and lot parking are available.
Queer Classics is dedicated to sharing classic stories re-imagined through a queer lens - art for the LGBTQ community and its supporters. This production of Earnest is part of the City of West Hollywood's One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, which this year celebrates marriage equality and runs May 22 - June 30. To see a full roster of events please visit www.weho.org/pride.
The Hollywood Fringe Festival is an annual, open-access, community-derived event celebrating freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts community. Each June during the Hollywood Fringe, the arts infiltrate the Hollywood neighborhood: fully equipped theaters, parks, clubs, churches, restaurants and other unexpected places host hundreds of productions by local, national, and international arts companies and independent performers. More information at www.hollywoodfringe.org
Philip Orazio is Algernon
Boone Platt is Jack
Mason McCulley is Gwendolen
Grant Jordan is Cecily
Philip Orazio, Grant Jordan, Mason McCulley, Boone Platt
Nancy La Scala is Lady Bracknell
Philip Orazio and Grant Jordan