Go Wilde!

On a cold, snowy Super Bowl Sunday there might be no better place to be than snuggled up in front of the big screen at home with pizza, wings, beer and close friends.

If you’re not the sporting type, however, and you’re looking for something a little more… civil…you might consider Neptune Theatre’s current production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Wry, witty, whimsical and warm, the work is the Irish scribe’s best, and best-known, play - and a particular pleasure for patrons of the English language.

As a key stepping stone in the transition from Shakespearean script to modern speak, Wilde bridged that gap with both style and substance; turns-of-phrase are firmly tongue-in-cheek, sleight-of-handling is hallmark, and timing and nuance are critical components of this three-act, late-19th century romantic comedy.

As such, the two-hour and twenty-minute performance spins upon the axis of dialogue.

Credit Neptune’s Artistic Director George Pothitis for having the eye (and ear) to cast the production accordingly; both David Leyshon (as lead Jack Worthing) and Marla McLean (as Gwendolin Fairfax) do the diction justice, as do Vanessa Walton-Bone (Lady Bracknell) and Elizabeth Richardson (Miss Prism), each of whom bring invaluable stage-experience to their respective roles.

Michael Therriault (as Algernon) and Chilina Kennedy (as Cecily Cardew) steal the soiree however; specifically, their witty banter (and feisty flirtations) in the second act is wonderfully accentuated by each actor’s strong physical presence and an overarching sense of the absurd.

And that is the work’s appeal; with sets and lighting that are minimal (yet vibrant and plush), Wilde’s words and phrasings are afforded their proper time and space to breathe, bringing the piece (and thus the times) to life.

The Importance of Being Earnest may be a far cry from the razzle-dazzle glitz and glamour Super Bowl Sunday, but with the sensory overload inherent to that event, Neptune Theatre’s production of this classic ‘rom-com’ is both a welcome relief and a sure slice of civility. ~ SPC

The Importance of Being Earnest until February 17 at Neptune Theatre in Halifax


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