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Theatre Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, October 15, 2010

As many listeners already know, this play is a Victorian era comedy of manners, involving cucumber sandwiches and love at first sight, and several witty English aristocrats with a too much free time on their hands. Part of the fun is listening to the ridiculously formal language of that time. In this scene, the imperious Lady Bracknell walks in to find a well-dressed young man on bended knee, proposing marriage to her eligible daughter Gwendolen.

"Mr. Worthing! Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent posture! It is most indecorous!"

This budding romance nearly gets derailed over Mr. Worthing's first name. He owns a large country estate, where he's known as Jack. But in London, he presents himself as Earnest. This seemingly innocent white lie very nearly leads to disaster, because for Gwendolen, only the one name will do.

"You don't mean to say that you couldn't love me if my name wasn't Earnest?"

"But your name IS Earnest!"

"Well yes, yes, I know it is. (laugh)  But suppose it really was something else. Do you mean to say you couldn't love me then?"

"That is clearly a metaphysical speculation."

This production by the Sacramento Theater Company is one I recommend, for two reasons. For those who already know how brilliantly funny Oscar Wilde's writing can be -- you will enjoy this show. It's well-cast, well-acted, and the direction is pretty good, too.

And for those who've never experienced a professional production of this classic - well, you are in for a treat. This upper crust comedy is an oldie, but a genuine goodie. 

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