Witty Comedy Comes to Brand Park

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater
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Only one more weekend for Dean Productions’ The Importance of Being Earnest by the most witty man ever to write comedy–Oscar Wilde – performed outdoors at Brand Park.  Since the play is a classic drawing-room satire, it may see odd to find it out of doors “in the garden,” so to speak. But the plucky organization, headed by Founder/Director Rebecca Lynne, brings her talented cast to Glendale for a short run once more.

 

Wilde’s formulaic plot (two lovers, mistaken identity, complications with a handbag) becomes the scaffolding to hang his outrageous (and very funny) skewering of England’s upper classes in the late 19th century. Today, it is still relevant for exposing pedantry.  Some things never change.

 

Even with a minimum of sets and lights, this production still lives up to Wilde’s succinct dialogue, and Lynne’s young actors rise to the occasion. Her own innovations are in evidence, with the addition of a narrator (Pascal Gercourt, also playing a succession of butlers) who sets the stage. Even more fun is the audience’s interplay, as they give up precious snacks and other items called for in the script.

The lovers, Jack aka Ernest (Henry Carbeck) and Gwendolyn (Mieko Beyer) prevail, despite the interference of her mother, Lady Bracknell (Mannette Antil). His ward, impressionable Cecily (Caitlin Stoodley), falls madly in love immediately when Algernon (Kenyon Meleney) presents himself to her as….you guess it, Ernest.  With two Ernests and Lady Bracknell afoot, what could possibly go wrong?  Kelly McCall as Miss Prism and Gercourt returning as Pastor Chasuble fill out the cast.

Lynne chooses to upgrade the play from its original time to the 1920s, which allows costumer Melissa Wilson to have fun with the period dress while lighting designer, Josh Winkler, has his hands full to provide enough light with a minimum of instrumentation. Minimal sound and miking emanates from side speakers courtesy of Jeremy Leung.

To add to the hi-jinks Lynne pokes fun at the limitations of Earnest’s two-platform setting on several occasions.

This program is well worth supporting! In addition to their yearly visit to Glendale, Dean Productions works with children affected by cancer in a variety of programs.

The Importance of Being Earnest plays Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm at Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain Ave., Glendale, CA 91201.  The event is free. Go to www.deanproductionstheatre.com for reservations, but walk-ins are welcome.