THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST by Carol Kaufman Segal
Oscar Wilde is still recognized today in many countries as a playwright as well as an author of novels, poems and essays. Born in Ireland n 1854, he died in France at the age of 46 leaving a great deal of work for such a short life. Perhaps, in this country, he is most noted for his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray which was made into a movie and a play, as well as his play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which is being presented at The Crown City Theatre in North Hollywood.
The Inportance of Being Ernest is a satire that makes light of marriage and stuffy traditions. It centers on two rather carefree and well-to-do bachelors who, oddly enough, are both living a double life in order to escape their social obligations. Algernon (Bobby Slaski) is visited by his friend Jack (Neil Unger) who he knows as Ernest. He tells Algernon that he came to ask his cousin Gwendolyn to marry him.
Algernon discovers Jack’s cigarette case with a different name inscribed on it and refuses to allow him to marry his cousin until Jack explains to him that he sometimes lives a double life as Ernest. This leads Algernon to tell Jack that he, too, lives a double life.
Gwendolyn (Riegan Sage) and her daunting mother, Lady Bracknel (Michael Mullen), arrive at Algernon’s estate. Jack proposes to Gwendolyn who eagerly accepts, telling him that she could only marry someone named Ernest. However, Lady Bracknell finds him unsuitable for her daughter and refuses to allow her to marry him.
Meanwhile, Algernon decides to show up at Jack’s estate and pretend to be Ernest. There he meets Jack’s niece Cecily (Ariel Barber) who never knew “Ernest”. She falls in love with him, and when he asks her to marry him, she accepts his proposal, also saying she could only marry someone named Ernest.
This is the gist of this very wild and funny caper before everyone finds out who is who and the mix-up is settled and the play ends with everyone living happily ever after. Other characters in the play are Merriman, a butler and Lane, a manservant (Will Potter), Rev. Cannon Chasabul (John Sala), and Miss Prism, governess (Mouchette van Helsdingen who are all important to working out the foibles in order that “happily ever after” happens.
Michael J. Marchak directs this very fine cast whose British accents are faultless. The striking costumes are by Michael Mullen, and the set design is by Joanne Lamb.
The Importance of Being Earnest is a classic. It plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM, through March 31, at The Crown City Theatre, located at 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood. Tickets are available online at crowncitytheatre.com, or by phone at (818) 605-5685.