Audience Comment about The Importance of Being Earnest

The American Repertory Theatre is proud to support other non-profit organizations in its community. We do work with Barry Andelman of the AIDS Action Committee of Boston giving them tickets to performances. Barry sent along the following comment he received about The Importance of Being Earnest:

The original Oscar Wilde play is sufficiently funny and satirical, but the way that Hayes and Woods play all the characters brings it to a new level. The A.R.T. will find enough scholarly sources to offer detailed rave reviews, so I’ll simply dwell on the ornamentations that left me in stitches.

The set is rich but not gaudy, incorporating numerous movable elements that will support two settings and multiple props without the help of a stage crew. Two actors change roles with appropriate voices, mannerisms, and emotions to present the source play effectively; then they ornament the underlying script and ironies with their increasingly frank sharing of costume and set changes, at unbelievably fast paces; and, finally, in the denouement they increase the number of characters on stage, the number and fragmentation of the costume switches, and the pace of the action.

While the play is set in its original Victorian England, it includes few riffs that play on contemporary music and styles, in case we weren’t sure that the send-ups of hypocrisy apply to our own society as well.

These comments may seem to give everything away, but they cannot begin to convey the side-splitting effects of a great production. The stunning talents of the two actor-directors are matched by the depth of their collaboration and comic timing.

Barry, thank you as ever. We have had good times before with tickets you arranged for us, but this one is REALLY OVER THE TOP, both in terms of how the actor-directors play it and in how we enjoyed it.

-Nicholas Peterson


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