The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde

Director Angela Konrad

Dates 25 October-4 November 2006 8 p.m., Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Venue Freedom Hall, Trinity Western University (7600 Glover Road in Langley )

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Actors Van Dyke & Gage Foto:M. RathjenWilde's classic commedia dell'arte story of mistaken identity is Theatre at TWU's season opener. It was a dreary day travelling to BC's bible belt, the agricultural fields of the Fraser Valley, where this Christian university is located. The university's little theatre at Freedom Hall was quite nice, and there was quite a long lineup for tickets. I thought this was because students here preferred matinees to late night shows, as Christians are more day people than night ones. The play started late because there were more people coming in and the house manager was counting seats and letting more people in. I was feeling dreadful and I was wondering what time I would be able to get back to civilisation.

The play started and I had an evil critical streak running down my spine for the ineptness and time mismanagement. To my surprise, however, their theatre department came up with a delightful comedy. Combined with the excellent rapier-sharp wit of Wilde, and the splendid direction of Angela Korda, these amateur university actors pulled through a difficult comic-timing-oriented play.

Algergnon (Thomas Gage) got a lot of laughs as well as Cecily (Laura Van Dyke). I said there must be something more than Christian prayers that's making this play click. Even the fast-paced talker Jack (Steven John Voth) was clearly understood in his Oxfordian accent, and Miss Prism (Jackie Faulkner) was pristine. The costumes and hair designs were elegant and reflected the period.

Gwendolen (Amanda Hart) was beautiful, and her poise was just perfect. I enjoyed, as well as the full-house audience, the exchange of words in the scene between her and Cecily.

Lady Bracknell (Rebecca Branscom) looked too young for her role, however, and perhaps a little "aging" makeup might help. Dr. Chasuble (Joshua McFaul) played his role to the T, but needs to project a bit more. Jordaan Montes as Lane and Meriman played her roles really well, especially as Lane.

The set design was quite innovative: the walls of Algernon's London flat (Act 1) as well as the outside walls of the Manor House (Acts 2 & 3) were pasted with newspapers, but it wasn't distracting at all unless you took a close look. The floor was a chessboard, and Act 2 opened with Cecily and Miss Prism playing with huge chess pieces. Interesting concept.

I left the theatre on a positive note. And voila, the dreary weather changed to a nice, windy Saturday afternoon on my way back west.

© 2006 Ed Farolan