Highly Recommended ****
I always enjoy my trips to the Athaneum. There is a bar and concessions on the first floor and its historic nature lends it intensely mysterious even if lacks0 grandeur. My trip Saturday was made even more delightful by Dead Writer Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde’s most famous play has always had a certain darkness underlying it. No-one is earnest through the entire play: mixed identities, secrets, and ridiculous characters seriously undermine its title. However, comically Wilde’s presentation shows that being less than honest can be funny.
Director Jim Schneider, wisely, emphasized the comedy and employed highly un-naturalistic acting styles which along with a charming, antiquated set designed by Eric Luchen, which included theatre curtains made me feel like I was watching the original production in the 19thc, giving the play a much needed freshness as many people, including myself, know the next lines before they are spoken: such is the enduring power of Wilde’s dialogue.
The play is remarkably well cast with a wonderful Lady Augusta (Mary Anne Bowman), who combined snobbishness with biting humor pitted against Earnest (Sean Magill) whose portrayal lives up to his adjective pseudonym, Miss Prism, who is again the a mix of delightful rigid propriety and biting, sometimes more conscious, humor, against an innocent and naive Cecelia (Patti Roeder), with Algeron, a handsome, Dorian Gray-like, toff and the aptly named Mr. Chasuble in a leagues of their own. Not one of the actors fell short although Lady Agatha and Miss Prism stood out in particular for their dead-pan comedy performed against their serious exteriors. Some have seen homo-erotic overtones in the play and some have refuted such an analysis. It doesn’t really matter: one can look at either way and enjoy it, especially the delivery of rapid fire lines in this production which make it worth seeing even if you have seen it a dozen times before.
Although the end looks like muck is about to hit the fan, as always in comedy, everything somehow incredibly works out with a delightful if highly unbelievable ending.
” The Importance of Being Earnest” plays at the Athenaeum Theatre, located at 2936 N. Southport Ave through July 31st Performances as follows:
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturday 7:30 pm
Sunday Matinee at 2:00 pm. running time: three hours with two intermissions.
Regular tickets are between 24 and 43 dollars with the discounted tickets available to students and seniors. Call 773-935-6875 or visit http://www.deadwriter.net
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Importance of Being Earnest”.