The importance of sets, costumes in `Being Earnest'

May 18, 2007|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,special to the sun

Prince George's Little Theatre showed courage in tackling The Importance of Being Earnest, which requires at least three settings for each act, a large costume wardrobe befitting Victorian gentry and a gifted cast to deliver Oscar Wilde's century-old dialogue. In this work, the great Irish poet and dramatist ridicules the pretentiousness of the British aristocracy.

Tired of his country home, Jack Worthing arrives in London assuming the identity of a fictitious pleasure-seeking brother, Ernest. His friend, Algernon, soon figures out the dupe, but also craves escape from dull social engagements and has invented a seriously ill friend, Bunbury, who often needs his attention.

Ernest is smitten with Gwendolen, the daughter of ultra-snobbish Lady Bracknell, who is Algernon's Aunt Augusta. Although Gwendolen likes Ernest well enough to accept his marriage proposal, her mother finds him unsuitable because he lacks proof of proper parentage.

Meanwhile, Algernon learns that Ernest has a young ward, Cecily, whom he visits at Jack's country home - and introduces himself to as Jack's brother, Ernest.

Others on the scene include Algernon's servant, Lane, and Jack's servant Merriman, Cecily's governess and tutor Miss Prism and the Rev. Canon Chasuble.

Director Norma Ozur delivers a well-paced show featuring inspired interior drawing rooms and lovely garden settings created by Sarah Kendrick, who also designed the marvelous Victorian costumes.

Zachary Brewster-Geisz is a charming Algernon, creating high comedy as he first gobbles all of the cucumber sandwiches intended for his Aunt Augusta and later devours most of the muffins in an eating contest with Jack. Brewster-Geisz creates high comedy with Karl Heimer's Jack and displays genuine chemistry with Katie Keddell's Cecily.

Except for often being loud, Heimer creates a believable Jack who is serious in his devotion to Gwendolyn and in providing care of his ward Cecily.

Both actors deliver the lengthy and difficult dialogue with distinct flair and excellent elocution so that every witticism is intelligible.

Julia Frank is formidable as haughty Lady Augusta Bracknell, enunciating her lines clearly. Meg Yednock as Gwendolen and Katie Keddell as Cecily are adept at playing flirtatious Victorian ladies, but each falls somewhat short in clearly delivering her lines.

Support players Norm Gleichman as the Rev. Chasuble and Shelley Rochester as Miss Prism are more successful in that skill, and are touching and funny in conveying their shy, bumbling attraction to each one another.

Performances continue at 8 tonight and tomorrow evening at Bowie Playhouse in White Marsh Park. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students 18 and under. 301-937-7458 or

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