The Importance of Being Earnest

Detour Productions with the Bloomington Area Arts Council are presenting Oscar Wilde’s delicious comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest” in the intimate Rose Firebay.

Throughout the production the overall design of Terence Hartnett and costumes by Danielle Bruce lived an almost independent dramatic life. Kris Lee and Eric Holmes were Algernon and John, the would-be-Earnests. Lee, from the city, was dressed in breathtakingly gaudy dandy’s arrays. It was sort of out Liberaceing, Liberace. Holmes country dress was a bit more conventional, but recall that his character is the one who can summon up only a handbag as his nearest relative.

Joss Marsh as a roaring Lady Bracknall, the family ogeress sailed along under a flag of ostrich plumes. The young men’s intendeds were played by Amanda Scherle and Stephanie Harrison. It’s these ladies who have somehow both fastened on the notion that only an “Earnest” will do as a suitor.Scherle as the city girl was charmingly, though conventionally arrayed. Harrison, the innocent from the country had an entire flower garden as part of her ensemble.

Frank Buczolich, glittering as the country clergyman, had what I presume was a golden key to the kingdom, about three and a half feet long, as a necklace.

DiPaulo’s outfit was painted to exactly fit into the white puffy clouds and blue skies of the set’s decorative panels. When he turned to go out of the door, he nearly disappeared. It was subtle, but upstaged all the other efforts.

Craig Owens’ direction appears largely natural with a few neat set pieces to underline the comedy.

Saturday night nearly every seat was filled with an appreciative audience that included a fair number of parents with children. Wilde’s particularly ironic wit appeals to adults, but is tailor-made for wise teen-agers. Teen-agers instinctively know that “the truth is never pure and seldom simple,” but hearing some one say it out loud on stage is a revelation. Some of the children laughed the hardest of all of us.

Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the John Waldron Arts Center has just two more performances, Friday and Saturday at eight.

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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