THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Mauckingbird): 60-second review

Gender roles play an essential part in much classic literature. How many complex pre-1900 plots would be instantly resolved if a woman could just marry whomever she chose and live the life she wanted? Oscar Wilde’s enduring comedy THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is an example. And there’s a moment in Mauckingbird Theatre Company’s gender-bent production of the play—as Lady Bracknell (the remarkable Nancy Boykin) is forbidding Gwendolyn (Brent Knobloch) to marry—when the company’s casting creates dissonance, but to a great extent the material benefits from this gender-focused interpretation.

The Importance of Being Earnest Mauckingbird review photo

James Ijames and Chancellor Dean star in Mauckingbird’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. Photo by Jill McCorkel.

The show’s success is ensured by effervescent performances by the two leads, James Ijames as Algernon and Chancellor Dean as Jack Worthing. Dean’s exuberance is mirrored in the vibrant costumes by Marie Anne Chiment. Of course, Wilde’s classic one-liners have a timeless bite (I found myself laughing at the mere expectation. “To lose one parent…”) and his farce is perfectly suited to campy tones. Indeed, watching EARNEST in Peter Reynolds direction, it’s hard to imagine how the play is ever done, er, straight. August 7-23, 2013. mauckingbird.org.

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.