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Henley Street Theatre The Importance of Being Earnest

By • Sep 27th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
The Importance of Being Earnest
Henley Street Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Richmond Triangle Players Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through October 19th
2:30 with two intermissions
$30/$25 Seniors/$15 Student
Reviewed September 26th, 2013

The Importance of Being Earnest is all about relationships and partnerships. First, it is the first official production in the new partnership between Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare. Second, it is also a partnership with Richmond Triangle Players, utilizing their theater space.

Also, the Oscar Wilde play is all about the evolving relationships between the characters. Wilde’s dialog contains an endless repartee of metaphors, sayings and one-liners.

Algernon (Ian Stearns) and Jack (Thomas Cunningham) are twenty-something bachelors in Victorian England. The two engage in “bunburying” or maintaining alternative personas in order to woo their love interests – Gwendolyn (Audra Honaker) and Cecily ( Aly Wepplo). The intertwined families are ruled over by matriarchal and Queen Victorian-esque Lady Bracknell (Robert Throckmorton).

The cast is rounded out with Jennifer Frank in dual roles as Miss Prism, Cecily’s teacher and Lane, Algernon’s butler; John Storck Maddox as the Reverend Chausable; and Stephen Ryan as Jack’s deadpan, dark and disgusted butler aptly named Merriman.

The entire cast play off each other with expert comedic timing and high energy pacing. Even with the rapid fire dialog, their diction and articulation are consistent and clear (with credit to Dialect Coach Susan Schuld). Director Jan Powell uses a series of poses and overly dramatic responses to effectively keep the action clever and creative.

A couple of elements of the play bothered me at first – such as overtly fake flowers and birds in the garden and Lady Bracknell’s overly short walking stick which forced Throckmorton to walk in an oddly hunched manner. However, my guest for the evening, Morgan, pointed out to me during the second intermission that this was likely intentional since everything about the play is stylized to show that things are not what they seem to be. Tennessee Dixon’s sets and Emily Atkins’ costumes, like the characters, are presenting a facade and an exaggeration of the truth. As one of the characters says: Style not sincerity is the vital thing.

However, I sincerely enjoyed all aspects of The Importance of Being Earnest. Its campy yet classy elements and energetic and likeable cast had just the right style.

Photo Gallery

Ian Stearns as Algernon Moncrief, Thomas Cunningham as Jack Worthing, Audra Honaker as Gwendolen Fairfax, Aly Wepplo as Cecily Cardew Audra Honaker as Gwendolen Fairfax and Aly Wepplo as Cecily Cardew
Ian Stearns as Algernon Moncrief, Thomas Cunningham as Jack Worthing, Audra Honaker as Gwendolen Fairfax, Aly Wepplo as Cecily Cardew
Audra Honaker as Gwendolen Fairfax and Aly Wepplo as Cecily Cardew
Audra Honaker as Gwendolen Fairfax and Thomas Cunningham as Jack Worthing Robert Throckmorton as Lady Bracknell
Audra Honaker as Gwendolen Fairfax and Thomas Cunningham as Jack Worthing
Robert Throckmorton as Lady Bracknell

Photos by Vinnie Gonzalez

The Cast

  • Miss Prism/Lane: Jennifer Frank
  • Algernon Moncrieff: Ian Stearns
  • Jack Worthing: Thomas Cunningham
  • Lady Bracknell: Robert Throckmorton
  • Gwendolyn Fairfax: Audra Honaker
  • Cecily Cardrew: Aly Wepplo
  • Reverend Canon Frederick Chausable: John Storck Maddox
  • Merriman: Stephen Ryan

The Crew

  • Director: Jan Powell
  • Stage Manager: Hannah Adaway
  • Production Manager: Corrie Barton
  • Set Designer: Tennessee Dixon
  • Lighting Design: Michael Jarett
  • Costume Design: Emily Atkins
  • Sound Design: Brandyn Moreno
  • Dialect Coach: Susan Schuld
  • Scenic Painting: Christina Delli Santi
  • Stitchery: Lindsay Austria
  • Wardrobe: Cherish Maldonado
  • Interns:
    • Assistant Stage Manager: Georgina Coffey
    • Properties: Lily Hargis, Cameron Tally
    • Costume Assistant: Anastazia Whittle
    • Crew: Eric Brothers, Stephen West

Disclaimer: Henley Street Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

This article can be linked to as: http://showbizradio.com/go/9725.

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