BWW Review: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at Solvang Festival Theatre
PCPA closes its season with one of the sharpest, funniest, cleverest comedies written in the English language--Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Fans of this Victorian confection of drawing-room comedy will not be disappointed. A beautiful set, designed by Jason Bolen, and sumptuous Victorian costuming, designed by Sara Curran Ice, transport us to a fashionable London flat and a smart country mansion.
Two young men, John Worthing (Michael Brusasco) and Algenon Montcrief (Yusef Seevers) have fallen in love with women who intensely and randomly wish to marry men named "Earnest." John and Algenon have the wrong names, but they do not let that stop them from pursuing Gwendolen Fairfax (Emily Trask) and Cecily Cardew (Katie Fuchs-Wackowski). When Gwendolen's mother, Lady Bracknell (Kitty Balay), objects to her daughter marrying John because he was a foundling (abandoned in an undignified railway station), it seems that both pairs of lovers may only look forward to a "passionate celibacy."
As directed by Roger Delaurier, the play's comic reversal, a moment of implausible absurdity, precipitates a delighted, collective gasp from the whole audience. Kitty Balay plays Lady Bracknell with the august severity required to pull off her character's brand of comic inversion (e.g., "...No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating"). She was delightful. The interplay between the romantically reticent pairing of Miss Prism (Polly Firestone Walker) and Rev. Canon Chasuble (Erik Stein) was the most vivacious that I've seen. Erik Stein, ever a pleasure to watch, was particularly magnetizing as the flustered Reverand Chasuble.
This show has a short run in Solvang, closing Sunday, September 8. After then, alas, we will all have to endure a passionate celibacy from the theater under the stars until next summer--gather your Wilde comedies while ye may!