BWW Reviews: Seattle Shakes' IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Is Thoroughly Delightful
When Seattle Shakespeare Company hits one out of the park they do it with gusto. Such is the case with their current production of Oscar Wilde's battle of witty banter, "The Importance of Being Earnest". They've managed to take Wilde's delightful romp and made it even more delightful by executing it with magnificent precision in all aspects. If I had to find one drawback with the production it's that it ended as I, for one, was having entirely too good a time.
Now you might say that Wilde's comedy of assumed identities and clever manners is bulletproof but I would have to argue that point. True, the script lends a wonderful foundation on which a company can build but if you do the show half way then it can fall horribly flat. Definitely not the case here as we try and unravel the intricate web of deceit placed before us. You see Earnest (Connor Toms) is in love with Gwendolen (Emily Grogan). But Earnest isn't Earnest, he's Jack. He just pretends to be Earnest to escape his country home to visit Gwendolen in town. Algernon (Quinn Franzen), Gwendolen's cousin, falls for Cecily (Hana Lass), Jack's ward. But Algernon is also calling himself Earnest in order to escape his life in town and visit Gwendolen in the country. And Lady Bracknell (Kimberly King), Gwendolen's mother and Algernon's Aunt is ... well she's just Lady Bracknell (and that is quite enough) and she is determined to keep Jack or Earnest away from Gwendolen as she feels he's just not good enough for her. Following so far? No? Good, then you're right on track. Not to worry, it's all explained in the end.
Director Victor Pappas has crafted a perfectly paced bit of chaos as the names and secrets fly and has assembled a ... well ... delightful cast and crew to tell the story with fantastic ends. Toms and Franzen play the two smirking rogues with aplomb and couldn't be more worthy of having the ladies fall for them. Grogan and Lass make the perfect paramours for these two and their battle of wills when each thinks the other is after her "Earnest" is an absolute joy to behold. King as the staunch matriarch could not be more perfect as she bullies and blusters her way through the show complete with several apoplectic fits that are only made more hilarious by costumer Melanie Burgess' insistence of putting tall feathers on top of her hats. Rounding out this ... er ... delightful cast is Charles Leggett as the sweet and doting Rev. Chasuble, Kate Wisniewski as the beautifully scattered Miss Prism and Michael Patten in a hysterical dual role of butlers Lane and Merriman. Each of them bring an ... um ... delightful sense of whimsy of their own to the piece making it all the more ... well ... delightful.
Have I mentioned the show is delightful? From the delightfully appointed and changeable set to the spot on costumes that are full of delight to the pacing and timing of the show which packs the performance with delight, the show just could not be more delightful and one quite funny ride. With my three letter rating system I give Seattle Shake's "The Importance of Being Earnest" a quite solid and delightful YAY!
"The Importance of Being Earnest" from Seattle Shakespeare Company performs at the Center Theatre through April 13th. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Shakespeare Company box office at 206-733-8222 or visit them online at www.seattleshakespeare.org.