The Importance of Being Earnest: A new generation's take on Wilde

 

The Importance of Being Earnest
Presented by King’s University College Players
Written by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Meghan Hunt
Cast: Merry Ann Ciosk as Lane/Merriman, Sam Da Rosa Holmes as Lady Bracknell, Anwyn Musico as Gwendolyn Fairfax, Erica Renneboog as Cecily, Jacob Verwaayen as Ernest/Jack, Dylan Caldwell as Algernon/Bunbury, Delaney Carvalho as Miss Prism, Jonathan Coles as Reverend Chasuble
*Anwyn Musico appears with the permission of Canadian Actors' Equity Association
The Arts Project
Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2012

One of the challenges of bringing a play that has been presented as many times, in as many venues as The Importance of Being Earnest to the stage for yet another go round, is finding either a fresh audience or a fresh take on an old classic. The King’s University College Players, along with Director Meghan Hunt, have sought to do both, with a great deal of success for such a young company.    

Oscar Wilde’s acerbic wit shines again in this satirical poke at Victorian society. Two young men, Algernon Moncrief and Jack Worthing engage in the subterfuge of alternate identities, enabling each of them to escape the restrictions of their ‘real’ lives, unbeknownst to each other initially. When they each fall in love with young ladies who know both by the name of ‘Ernest’, the comedy of errors begins and hilarity ensues.

 
 

Wilde’s razor-sharp wit has made this play a favourite for more than a century, and it was fun to see a new generation experience it, for the first time in many cases. The King’s College Players did great justice to his timeless script, delivering the comic (and complicated) plot up with sparkle and spirit. The direction is tight, with Dylan Caldwell and Jacob Verwaayen playing well off of each other; one somber and ‘earnest’, the other mischievous, elegant, and flippant.  Caldwell’s righteous indignation and nervous double takes are the perfect comic foil for Verwaayen’s smooth and duplicitous ‘logic’.  

Sam Da Rosa Holmes was impressive as the positively terrifying, commanding Lady Bracknell.  Anwyn Musico as the smoldering Gwendolyn Fairfax was a delight, and dealt with a wardrobe malfunction in a manner Janet Jackson would envy. Erica Renneboog made a charming and spritely Cecily. Delaney Carvalho and Jonathan Coles as Miss Prism and Reverend Chasuble prove that old matches can still burn with heat. Merry Ann Ciosk as Lane played the part with deadpan sarcasm that got lots of laughs.



 

Sets were sparse but did the job. The costumes reflected the period and class of the characters, but also provided clues to their sympathies and inclinations. The dark, heavy suit and cloak of Jack, (a pillar of his community in the country, despite his unfortunate beginnings as the offspring of a handbag) perfectly suited his sincere and devout demeanor. No less evocative were the rather more colourful and jaunty costumes of Algie, a witty sophisticate and general n’er do well.  

An ambitious effort to be sure, but this production was well directed and the cast delivered Wilde’s flowery and witty dialogue with assurance and impeccable timing.  

/  4

Jamie-Lee Wilson is a mild mannered Project Manager by day and crime fighter by night (if you consider teenage children who spend their time watching reality T.V. and eating Kraft dinner and wieners a crime). She grew up in Toronto where she attended York University. Jamie moved to London in search of cheaper parking.

Photos by Richard Gilmore

 


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