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BWW Review: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: LIVE IN HD at L.A. Theatre Works

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Available for home viewing until Jul 31st

BWW Review: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: LIVE IN HD at L.A. Theatre Works

As both a longtime avid (New York) Roundabout Theater goer and fan of actor Brian Bedford, the company's 2011 production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is regretfully one I was unfortunate to miss. Until now. Nor should you!

Suffice it to say that if you could possibly manage to ever own this rendition for all time to come, do it. It is a classical masterpiece that should be in the media library of every theater enthusiast, comedy fanatic, and Oscar Wilde devotee. Otherwise, you would be sorry to pass up on the opportunity to feast your eyes and ears on this jewel so easily. LATW's final extension of its Live-in-HD presentation ends July 31st.

Captured in high-definition by L.A. Theatre Works, Roundabout Theatre Company's 2011 Broadway staging of Wilde's enduringly popular satire, directed by and starring Brian Bedford is possibly THE best production of this play anyone has experienced in modern memory. I, for one, cannot think of its equal. Previously shown in movie theaters across the country, it is currently streaming on-demand for home viewers with the added bonuses of a backstage tour by David Hyde Pierce, an interview with Bedford, and a special feature conversation between actor Alfred Molina and Oscar Wilde expert Michael Hackett who discuss the writer and the man. There's even a peek at Bedford's physical transformation into the very symbolically Victorian and ripping battle-ax, Lady Bracknell - a character he actually did not want to take on.

"What do you play after King Lear...I really didn't want to get into a frock and camp around."

Bedford originally thought the suggestion was a rotten idea. Luckily, for us, he changed his mind with gusto. And the result by the entire cast is a pitch-perfect piece that is beautifully captured on tape by the, then, forward-thinking L.A. Theatre Works team and edited for a sitting-in-the-first-row experience.

Intrinsically valuable for actors and directors, it is, as Bedford remarks, one of the most difficult plays to get right. You have to deeply connect with the characters and the text - really believe in what you are saying, rather than just playing the comedy. It's not easy.

All audiences though, especially language geeks, will simply eat up the piquant display of Victorian repartee, as well as the essential preshow conversations, and onscreen trivia. Ultimately, under Bedford's direction, the play nails the most critical aspect of its purpose - Oscar Wilde's subversive, bon mot genius.


WHEN:
Streaming on-demand now through July 31.

WHERE:
latw.org/hd-screenings or theatermania.stream/products/the-importance-of-being-earnest.

TICKETS:
$15 USD / $18 CAD / £10 GBP per household


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