“Lady Windermere’s Fan” at Taproot Theatre

Oh Oscar Wilde, your astute impressions of the British upper class seem as sharp today as they were in the late 19th Century when you wrote your plays. And I must tell you that you aren’t entirely successful at hiding your attitudes toward class and politics, but then you never wanted to, did you? Your humor, of course, is still pertinent, and your characters, with just a little imagination, could be our contemporaries. Their snobbery and marital distrust are features of our own society, yet how we love to see all this revealed, as you do it, in lives from past generations.

We’re certainly immersed in a snobbish society in this play, just as we are immersed in a society in which males were in charge (totally and absolutely). Wives were expected to be utterly faithful to their husbands just as they were expected to obey his rules. They bore his children, entertained appropriately, made the proper social connections, and, if they were particularly inventive, perhaps they did some watercolor paintings (landscapes, no nudes) or excelled at needlework. Of course they carried fans in an age before air conditioning, but those fans did much more than keep them cool. They served also to deliver subtle messages. Lady Windermere, as we see, was not as careful with her fan as she should have been.

Taproot’s presentation of “Lady Windermere’s Fan” plays out on a suitably classy, period perfect set (Mark Lund). Lund is also responsible for sound. Kent Cubbage’s lighting reinforces mood and period just as Jocelyne Fowler’s lush costumes epitomize the late 19th C. upper class English.

Directors Karen Lund and Marianne Savell have assembled a fine cast, all of whom seem to settle well into the period. This is a good ensemble whose members play off one another with grace and impeccable timing.

I happen to love Oscar Wilde. If you are unfamiliar with his work, this is a good introduction. If you know his work well, this will please you.

Through June 23 at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., Seattle, 206-781-9707, taproottheatre.org.

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