|Deb Holmes as governess Miss Prism and Margie Young as Cecily Cardew.|
By Tina Arth and Darrell Baker
The last time we were in
we made a pilgrimage to the legendary . Most visiting
Americans are drawn to Jim Morrison’s grave, while Edith Piaf attracts a wide
range of flower-bearing music-lovers. We, however, made a bee-line for Oscar
Wilde’s monument, eager to pay homage to one of the wittiest wordsmiths in the
history of the English language. Pére Lachaise
Mask & Mirror’s current production of The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy Set in the Serious South, is contemporary proof that time has not diminished the impact of Wilde’s cutting satire. Furthermore, the relevance of the script demonstrates that in many ways things haven’t really changed much since the work was penned.
|Margie Young and Casey Faubion as Algernon Moncrieff.|
Adapting the show to a setting in the post-Civil War South, rather than its original Victorian locale, was an excellent choice on the part of director Mason Hall. In both cases, the upper classes were in denial about the erosion of their “empires” and were clinging to the superficial trappings of their social positions. The gentle southern accents ensure that none of Wilde’s amazing punch lines are lost in translation, and help the audience to grasp the fundamental likeability of the often-silly lead characters.
Casey Faubion plays charming fop Algernon Moncrieff with a decadent confidence that masks his character’s genteel poverty. He fluidly delivers Wilde’s complex dialogue, and on opening night he made brilliant use of a cucumber sandwich to regroup after a minor lapse. James Kilmury is equally effective as Moncrieff’s counterpart, the love-struck John/Jack/Earnest Worthing. His slightly smarmy affect is perfect for the role. Sheila Zook brings a headstrong determination to her portrayal of Gwendolyn, and one of her strengths as an actress is her ability to modulate her intense delivery when the action dictates that she step back. Margie Young (Cecily Cardew) presents her character as Gwendolyn’s cloistered and naïve opposite, but despite her comically wide-eyed naïveté, she reveals a devilish fascination with “bad boy” Moncrieff.
|Greg Prosser as Minister Dr. Chasuble and Deb Holmes.|
The show’s strongest performance is by Elisabeth Goebel (Lady Bracknell), a battleship of societal tradition fighting to salvage the remnants of her once-illustrious family. Goebel’s delivery is letter-perfect, crisp, and powerful, and she uses her face and body to enhance her status as a regal dowager.
Scott Rushford (butler Lane/Merriman), Deb Holmes (governess Miss Prism), and Greg Prosser (minister Dr. Chasuble) round out this talented cast and provide effective support to the production. The sets are appropriately elegant, completely masking the bare-bones ambience of the church recreation room. The detailed costumes lend lavish period authenticity to the production. The refreshments at intermission, in uniquely Mask & Mirror style, are mint juleps (alcohol-free) and southern pecan cookies, further drawing the audience into the spirit of the evening.
Mask & Mirror Community Theater’s production The Importance of Being Earnest runs through May 19th, with productions at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays at “The Stage,” Calvin Church,
SW Canterbury Lane, Tigard, 97224. Ticket
information is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.