“The Importance of Being Earnest” at Seattle Shakespeare Company

Oh the droll, the witty, the absolutely marvelous Oscar Wilde, and what could be better than a terrific production of one of Wilde’s best plays? Seattle Shakespeare’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is just that—wonderful from beginning to end!

Carey Wong’s sets are grand, in that upper class, late 19th Century way. There’s an interior with brocaded furniture, marbled wall panels, vases of flowers, and a grand chaise for reclining and postulating. In the second act the country home has trellised rose bushes, a spacious stone veranda beyond which are verdant green trees and manicured grounds. It’s all perfectly evocative of a time and a social class. And Melanie Burgess’s costumes are designed to broadcast wealth, pride, and snobbery.image010

We first meet man-about-town, the oh so swishy Algernon Moncrieff, played to perfection by Quinn Franzen. Enter his friend Jack, given just the right class by Connor Toms, and so the fun begins. Both men, to advance their romantic interests, assume the name of Earnest. What follows is the comic tale of confusions, deceits, thwarted romance, bizarre pedigree, and finally love triumphant, all presented in Wilde’s clever prose.

The entire cast deserves praise. Emily Grogan and Hana Lass, play the sweet young things who are the objects of desire. They are not above a bit of manipulation to get what they want in the end. Not so easy given the oversight of snobbish Lady Bracknell played with stern might by Kimberly King.

Even the minor characters are praiseworthy: Michael Patten as both officious butlers, Kate Wisniewski as the not so reliable nanny then tutor, and Charles R. Leggett as the doddering man of the cloth.

There is so much to like about this production. For me, Wilde never grows stale. Though I’ve seen this play a number of times, it thrills me to see a production as good as this one directed by Victor Pappas.

Through April 13 at Seattle Shakespeare Company, Center Stage in The Armory at Seattle Center, (206 733-8222 or www.seattleshakespeare.org)

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