It’s too bad productions of plays, much like movies or books, can’t be purchased, taken home and enjoyed time and time again.
Granted, there are few stories for the stage, much like those made for the silver screen, that lend themselves to repeated viewing. Western Canada Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the rare few that is.
Errol Durbach’s adaptation of the Oscar Wilde classic, which enjoys it’s official opening Saturday night at the Sagebrush Theatre, is about as close to perfection as one can expect from any medium, with expert direction and flawless performances.
The preview audience certainly enjoyed what they saw Thursday night, laughing often and commenting during the intermission at the impeccable casting.
In a cast of nine one can usually expect a weak link or two. Not so here. Everyone, from Kamloops native Kirk Smith’s overconfident Jack Worthing to Stephanie Moroz’s nubile Cecily Cardew are, as they said in Wilde’s day, spot on.
Even Tim Hildebrand and Joshua Beaudry, who play multiple supporting roles as butlers, gardeners and lawyers, earn more than their fair share of laughs.
Those who appreciate theatre, literature and film already know the plot: Worthing, a bored country gentleman, poses as Earnest when he comes to the city for fun. Algernon Moncrief (Matthew Edison) has an imaginary friend named Bumbury who gets conveniently ill whenever there's a social engagement he wants to avoid.
A couple of marriageable women attract the men’s affections. Gwendolen Fairfax (Jamie Lee Shebelski) is ready for the man she knows as Earnest to propose, but her mother Lady Bracknell (Laurie Paton) doesn’t approve of him. Cecily, Jack's ward, is open to any offers from Jack's bad-boy brother Earnest, so Algernon poses as Earnest with the intention of courting her.
All of Wilde’s quips, comedy and social satire survive Durbach’s adaptation intact and director Johnna Wright has an eye and an ear for the era, the body language and the accents. As a result, there’s not one false note in the entire play.
It might help that the cast and crew performed The Importance of Being Earnest to much success with the Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon last year. Certainly everyone’s familiarity with the piece doesn’t hinder this co-production.
Fine, I’ll come right out and say it: this is a great production of one of the finest comedies every produced. If there’s a local theatregoer who hasn’t enjoyed the company of The Importance of Being Earnest before, now is the time to do so.
The Importance of Being Earnest continues at the Sagebrush until Feb. 2.