The Importance of Seeing ‘Earnest’ at A Noise Within!
While it’s no secret I love anything to do with the theatre, I actually have kept it a bit under wraps how much I adore Oscar Wilde, & my most favorite work of his is definitely The Importance of being Earnest. I suppose its been a bit of a secret since I could easily torture those around me by speaking in quotes from this marvelous play. I think even Mike was surprised as the time approached for me to attend the production now at Pasadena’s A Noise Within for this feature, that I slowly was all about Bunburying & discussing if I love muffins or tea cake.
Entering The Raymond Stage at A Noise Within, you immediately feel transplanted into the 1800s by the gorgeous set they have created for the production. When showtime happens, we soon meet London resident Algernon (played to perfection by Adam Haas Hunter), a young, dapper, flamboyant gentleman not too concerned with taking life very seriously. He has invited his old chum, Earnest Worthing (Christopher Salazar), over from the country to pay him a visit…and, perhaps propose to his cousin, Gwendolyn (Carolyn Ratteray). It’s very clear that while Jack has marriage & settling down on his mind, Algernon cannot be bothered. He would rather outsmart his Aunt, Gwendolyn’s Mother, Lady Bracknell (a great Jean Gilpin), by getting out of dull dinners & soirees by saying his invalid friend, Mr. Bunbury, is once again close to death & he must pay him a visit.
Only minor issue is….Bunbury does not exist! 😉
And, it doesn’t stop there. Algy has discovered Earnest is actually named Jack, but goes by Earnest in the city….& that those in the country think Jack has an estranged brother named Earnest whom Jack’s ward, Cecily (Marisa Duchowny), has an imaginary crush on. When he proposes to Gwendolyn, she makes the startling announcement that she can only ever love a man by the name of Earnest. Then, we have Algy…who is intrigued to hear Jack has beautiful young lady Cecily living at his countryside home.
And, this is all just in the first act! The hijinks & laughs go through the roof in Act 2, when we’re introduced to Cecily & her tutor, Miss Prism (Jill Hill). Algernon decides to show up to introduce himself to Cecily….as Earnest Worthing. Shortly after, Jack shows up to announce his “brother” is dead. The looks on Salazar’s face as he discovers Algy has shown up as Earnest, are priceless! When Gwendolyn next enters the act, she meets Cecily, who is speaking of her engagement & love for Earnest….whom Gwendolyn is also engaged too. The scenes between these 2 actresses are spot on as they go from best friends, enemies, to “Sisters” when they learn they have been taken as fools….with their men pretending to be those they are not!
While each cast member are exquisite in their roles, Hunter as Algernon could easily be nominated for a LA Weekly Theatre Award or Ovation for his portrayal. He is larger than life, even jumping off stairs & over set props. He brings to mind perhaps how Oscar Wilde himself just may have been. With Tim Burton-esque costumes & layers of the character being revealed as the show progresses, he certainly is all Algernon should be on stage.
Salazar & Ratteray have great chemistry; Ratteray is perfect as a young lady of society while her scenes with love struck Duchowny are hilarious. At first, I was concerned at Duchowny’s level of perkiness with her Cecily, but, as her time in the spotlight progressed, she held her own & the high energy fell into place splendidly as she fell in-love with her Earnest.
This is a play not to be missed, & great for the entire family. Earnest will play in repertory through November 22nd, & tickets are selling out. Find out more on A Noise Within’s web-site HERE. xo
(*Disclosure: A special thanks to A Noise Within for having me at this performance. As always, all opinions are my own.)