The Importance of Being Earnest
Reviewed by Natalie Shaw
If your current age ranges anywhere between 30-45 years old, you may recall a sort of fascination in the early 2000s with certain baby names, as in names that you were one day hoping to give your future child. I thought that I was incredibly clever and was taking the name "Jackson" as hostage, in case I had a son. If you've seen the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias, you know that that the handsome Dylan McDermott plays "Jackson Latcherie," also known as Shelby's (Julia Robert's) charming husband. Just the sound of the name "Jackson" felt warm and nostalgic, and I just knew I was going to have a son one day! I felt as crafty as a little demon, having secured this name, far before any of my close friends could do the same. Until. (There's always an "until," in situations like this, isn't there?) Until, I learned that my very own SISTER had done the exact same thing for the exact same reason! Oh, I was furious!! Now, I should add that my sister is older than me, so she had first dibbs! And, to add insult to injury, it became known among our circle of close friends that "Jackson" was, indeed, a name that many of them had also harvested for themselves. Honestly!! Now, what will I name my unborn child? In reality, I have two sons, neither of which is named Jackson, while my sister has a daughter. Needless to say, we squabbled over nothing, which only proved how ridiculous we both were.
In The Importance of Being Earnest, the name "Earnest" is held dear to the heart of two female characters, Gwendolyn Fairfax (played remarkably by Dani Chambers) and Cecily Cardew (played with girlish charm by Marianne Bray,) because of its proper sound and dignified association with the elite, upper class in late 1800s England. As an adopted child, John Worthing has much envied a name of such distinction, and has therefore been referring to himself as "Earnest," and using the name to his advantage and as a cover-up, so to speak, whenever he sees fit. Sinan Beskok plays a wonderful "Earnest" John Worthing with thoughtful physicality and vocal inflections that are quite fun, securing the landing of his character's many clever jokes. Opposite him is Tom Pinney's Algernon Moncrief, whose character may be even more of a schemer than our beloved John. Beskok and Pinney bring a creative competitiveness that is nicely believable and immensely entertaining to watch!
Within the story, John and Gwendolyn find it most difficult to hide their affections for one another, while Algernon and Cecily find it equally difficult to not fawn over one another. There are, however, a few obstacles in their way. One of which is the judgmental high-society Lady Bracknell, played with comical intensity and intimidation by Stacey Calvert, and the other is due to the fact that both men, out of convivence have undergone the name of Earnest Worthing! If they should be found out, they both run the risk of losing his fiancé. What will become of them?
The setting of our play is cozy and quaint with a comfortable blue interior and garden-themed exterior. Bright white accents add a nice pop to the playing space, as well, courtesy of designer Hayden Casey. Director Michael Childs has opened up the playing space well into the audience, creating a much grander experience for the audience. Lighting Designer Branson White provides a soft white light both in the outdoor garden scenes and with intended natural light in the indoor living area scenes. Sound design is provided beautifully by Producing Artistic Director, Natalie Burkhardt and time-period appropriate costumes are designed by Nita Cadenhead.
Upright Theatre Co.'s The Importance of Being Earnest is an excellent choice for this weekend's entertainment! It is sure to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart! Make plans to see this wonderful production as soon as you can! Space is limited and tickets are selling fast! Tickets can be purchased at uprighttheatre.org.
Audience Rating: G, for everyone
Running Time: 2 hours with two 10 minute intermissions
Hearing Devices: Not Available
Sensory Friendly Showing: Not Available
ASL Showing: Not Available
Noises or Visuals to Prepare For: None of note