BWW Review: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City

BWW Review:  THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City

An outrages romp into Victorian England with ballpoint pens and yellow plastic sunglasses awaits audiences at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. Journeyman Theatre presents their hilarious look at Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.

The 19th century play in three acts directed by Ian Crawford not only crosses centuries in time it also crosses genders. In Crawford's adaption of the Wilde play the female cast plays the parts of men and the male cast portrays the women. Coupled with costumes more for the late 1900's (a brown denim jacket) than from Victorian times and on stage appears a green rubber garden hose, I'm sure I saw on a Target shelf, Crawford has produced a highly entertaining production reminiscent of a 1930's melodrama.

The Importance of Being Earnest is the tale of two eligible bachelors who invent new personalities, both named Earnest. The two fall in love with two women who only will marry men named Earnest. To pave the way to marry his beloved Gwendolen, who knows him as Earnest, Jack returns to his country manor and declares his brother Earnest is dead, only to discover Algernon is at the manor telling Cecily he is Jack's brother Earnest.

Chelsey Tighe plays Algernon Moncrieff and the imaginary Earnest Worthing, with a charming raspy English accent. Her facial expressions and body language are priceless as she reacts to the conversations and actions of the other characters. On several occasions, her look of playfulness and cunning caused the audience to erupt in laughter. She brought an enormous amount of energy to her performance, which transferred effortlessly to the audience.

Margaret Hanzlick portrays the characters of John (Jack) and Earnest Worthing (in the city). Her performance was strong as she argued with Algernon or attempting to persuade Gwendolen of his never-ending love. Her performance was magnificent as the upper crust Englishman. Hanzlick graduated from Kansas University with a degree in Theater Performance has appeared in Intimate Apparel, the Beaux Stratagem, and Noah's Arch.

Zack Chaykin marvelously portrayed Gwendolen Fairfax. His interactions with John Worthing as Earnest were delightfully humorous to watch. One moment Gwendolen was hopelessly madly in love, eager to satisfy her man so as long as his name was Earnest, the next moment she stepped into the persona of the always-obedient daughter following her mother without question.

Justin Speer gives a powerful performance as the domineering arrogant Lady Bracknell. Obviously, Lady Bracknell is more interested in social standing and etiquette rather than the needs and desires of her daughter Gwendolen or her nephew Algernon.

Elissa Schrader as Lane and Merriman, Heather Hare as Reverend Canon Chasuble, Matt Sweeten as Cecily Cardew and Lucas T. McVey as Miss Prism, presented wonderful performances in supporting roles.

The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People continues at the Just Broadway Theatre through February 23. Purchase tickets at or at the door the evening of the performance.

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