Written by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Judith Jarosz
Theater Ten Ten, 1010 Park Avenue (www.Theater1010.com)
Equity showcase (Mon., Fri., and Sat. 8 PM, Sun. 3 PM, closes March 9th)
(212-288-3246 ext. 3 for tickets or
Review by Byrne Harrison
A hundred years on and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is still making audiences laugh. Even roar, on occasion. They can still appreciate a witty turn of phrase or a moment of ridiculous coincidence; Earnest certainly has plenty of both.
Revolving around a couple of seemingly innocent lies told by Algernon Moncrieff (David Jacks), a rich ne’er-do-well, and his friend, Jack Worthing (Christopher Michael Todd), Earnest is a familiar story for most of the modern theatre-going audience. While the current production at Theater Ten Ten is indeed earnest and certainly amusing, it doesn’t really stand out.
The cast features solid performances by most of the players, though two in particular, Cristiane Young as Lady Bracknell, and Vanessa Morosco as Gwendolen Fairfax, are excellent. Young is especially delightful because she is an imposing, Wagnerian Bracknell, who looks as though she could snap Algernon or Jack in two should she so desire. Morosco has the delicate movements of a Victorian china doll, but she can express displeasure with the pursing of her lips or a slight crinkle of her brow. Indeed Morosco’s confrontation in the garden with Sheila Joon (as Jack’s ward, Cecily) is one of the strongest moments of the production.
Also notable, though spending less time onstage, are Talaura Harms and Greg Horton as Miss Prism and Reverend Chasuble. Their awkward, almost-courtship is wonderful to watch.
Rounding out the cast is David Fuller, as the domestics Lane and Merriman. He also serves as set designer.
Fuller’s set design seems somewhat awkward, featuring shallow platforms, stacked like a short staircase, and seems very similar to his set for last year’s Innocent Diversions. Director Judith Jarosz has a tendency to keep the actors downstage center, which doesn’t make particularly good use of Fuller’s wide, though shallow, set. The actors often seem bunched together.
One outstanding aspect of the production is the marvelous costume design by Lydia Gladstone and Kristin Yunkurth Raphael. While all the costumes are well done, they truly excel at capturing Algernon’s mildly wicked personality using bright colors and bold patterns. The pair’s costumes for Gwendolen and Cecily are wonderful as well, subtly reinforcing the differences between the city girl and the country girl.
Theater Ten Ten has staged a solid and enjoyable Earnest. Frothy and fun, it will delight, even if it doesn’t linger in the memory.
Copyright 2008 by Byrne Harrison
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