The magic of a delightful play: The Importance of Being Earnest, a guest 12thnight Fringe review by Todd Babiak

Carol Chu, Rory Turner, Maggie Salopek, Damon Pitcher in The Importance of Being Earnest, Empress of Blandings Productions. Photo by Emmanuel Dubbeldam.

The Importance of Being Earnest (Stage 15, Holy Trinity Anglican Church)

Oscar Wilde understood the potential of the English language, to delight, better than almost anyone who came before or after him. This is how we can have two successful productions of the show in a mid-sized city in the same season. The Importance of Being Earnest sounds as fresh today as it must have in 1895.

This may or may not work as justification for modernizing the show, with contemporary fashion, pop music, and smart phones. It’s certainly good for the costume budget. But fear not. Celia Taylor’s production does not toy with the real magic of the play: Wilde’s dialogue and the naughty, tiptoeing quality of the lovable buffoons who represent English manners.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a deceptively difficult play. A lazy production can feel messy. The Edmonton Fringe version is crisp, quick, and winning, with a uniformly excellent cast having genuine fun with some of the cleverest lines ever written.

Among them, Rory Turner, who plays Algernon Moncrieff, might as well be wearing a frock coat and a Lafayette vest. He’s so much the ridiculous Victorian gentleman he makes his smart phone look silly. Bravo, Algie.

Todd Babiak

 

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