Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Theater Review: The Importance of Being Earnest


On Saturday night, Geoff (my hubby) and I had an opportunity to go to Trinity Repertory Company's production of The Importance of Being Earnest with our neighbors. We don't often see plays at Trinity because theater is really my thing and since I like musicals, we tend to go to Providence Performing Arts Center to see touring Broadway shows. Trinity is really more about drama. But since we and our neighbors were each able to get one free ticket, we decided we would each buy an additional ticket and have a grown up couples night out.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play written by Oscar Wilde in 1895. It opened in London to critical acclaim due to it's sharp humor and social commentary. The story is essentially one of mistaken identity between two courting couples. Both of the young women are led to believe that they are engaged to the same man - Earnest Worthing. While in fact, Earnest is the fictional brother of one of the male suitors, John Worthing.

While I did enjoy the night out and the company of our friends, the show left a lot to be desired. With the exception of Janice Duclos, the actress who played Lady Bracknell, all of the other actors over played their roles to such an extent that they became caricatures. Their facial expressions, physical movements and the delivery of their lines were so exaggerated that they became absurd. In addition, while the play does have many funny and witty lines, not all of them should have been emphasized. It felt as though every line was a joke or a witticism. It really detracted from the story as a whole. I get it already. This is a comedy. Don't hit me over the head with it - again and again and again, ad nauseum. In addition, the play was much too long. It ran 2 1/2 hours and I found my mind drifting off on more than one occasion. That has NEVER happened to me in a show before. Even shows I haven't liked very much. Not a great sign.

Anyway, I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I'm still glad I went to see this show. As I already said, it was fun night out with friends. But, it was more than that. I'm really coming to understand, that when it comes to theater, it's a good thing to try new things - even if you don't love them.

As a matter of fact, after seeing Spring Awakening on Tuesday (and being happily surprised), I've decided to try to see even more theater next season. I was further inspired by Esther at Gratuitous Violins, an awesome theater news and reviews blog. Esther does theater the way I do books. And that got me thinking that I want to do more theater as well. This year was the first time I've ever had season tickets to any theater. And, as it so happens, I was lucky enough to see a few other shows as well. So after this weekend, I decided to renew both of my subscriptions and to see one show at Trinity and one ballet next season. I checked Trinity's upcoming season online and it looks fantastic! I'm not sure I can pick just one. Geoff's not in favor of another subscription, but we'll see. And the ballet hasn't even published it's upcoming season yet. What's a girl to do?

Image from Google Images

8 comments:

Tammy Howard said...

Before the kids I had season tickets to 2 theaters plus the ballet and the opera. Now? I'm lucky if I see a show or two a year. Thanks for letting me live vicariously! (*sniff* I miss it so. much. *sniff*)

Alex the Girl said...

Ugh, I'm in Tammy's boat there. It seems now that the only time I get to the theater is when my girls are either competing or putting on a show at the school. Kids, go figure.

I saw this show when I was in college, though. The drama dept. had staged it. I'd have to say it was "eh." The acting was good, I just didn't care for the storyline all that much. It didn't hold my attention.

There was one I did get to see, though. It was put on by three men. They did everything: wrote, directed, produced, and starred. I believe it was called "A Three Man Production of Sheakespheare." It was one of the funniest plays I had seen in a very long time.

Ooops, I'll nod out before my comment turns into a post! Glad you had fun, Pam.

Esther said...

Thanks so much for the shoutout!

Sorry about The Importance of Being Earnest. I remember reading the play or maybe seeing a tv version when I was in high school and I really liked it but it sounds like this production does wring a lot of the life out of it!

Trinity Rep is doing Cabaret next fall, so that should be pretty interesting.

Anita said...

Pam, you are fortunate to have so much theater to choose from close by. I live in a small town and we have a local play house, but it's very very amateurish, though not awful, just not the same.
I live a less cultured life I think....pouting, I want Broadway musicals and dramatic theater too!

Pam said...

Tammy - Feel free to live vicarously through me. I will continue to review all the shows I see. And really, until this past season, I was like you. I would see one or two shows a year. And I loved every minute of it. Maybe you should look into a small local theater. The tickets are usually cheap and the one I've found is quite good. Go ahead. You deserve it!

Alex - Hey, you too, Alex. Maybe you can find a small theater company in your area. I remember going to shows put on my college as well. I LOVED it! How cool that you go to see an original piece of theater - and it was actually GOOD! Hurray!

Esther - You're welcome. You have a way of saying exactly the right thing - "wring the life out of it" indeed. THAT is EXACTLY what the director and actors did. Thank you for your apt description.

Anita - You're right. I am very lucky and didn't even realize it. What a bummer that you are too far from any larger theaters. Where did you see 1776 recently? Was that a local playhouse or did you travel a bit to see that?

Anita said...

Pam, 1776 was at a semi local theater, @ 45 minutes from here. Orlando is @ an hour. There is one local playhouse, 25 min or so from here that is rumored to be very good, I may have to check it out.
I have a couple of awards for you waiting on my blog!!

Ms.Emily said...

glad you got a grown up night out :)

I know how far and in between those sometimes are

have a great week!

Pam said...

Thank Emily. And you are so right. It was fun to have a couples night out. We had lot of fun at dinner and critiquing the play on the way home. Oh, and laughing about the guy who sat next to Amy and was scatching his head and picking in his ears all while crowding into her space. YUCK!

 

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