Back by popular demand, Open House Theatre goes Wilde with The Importance of Being Earnest

Never ones to wash their clean linen in public, the Open House Theatre company scored a resounding success last year with The Importance of Being Earnest; so much so that they decided a second time certainly can’t hurt – you can never be too Earnest, after all.

Wilde’s famous send up of shallow Victorian society is layered with jokes both subtle and blatant, giving it more depth than one would expect from a farce. Two gentlemen, J.P. Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, end up impersonating the same individual for their own ends – Earnest Worthing. A fictional brother fabricated by J.P. Worthing to escape his commitments and enjoy exploits about town, Earnest also helps in courting Gwendolen Fairfax, Moncrieff’s cousin. But Moncrieff soon discovers the deception, and uses the persona in kind to pursue Worthing’s young ward, Cecily Cardew. Naturally, much mayhem ensues before the resolution, exacerbated by both ladies being absolutely insistant on wedding a man christened Earnest.

The Importance of Being Earnest
© Hannah Neuhuber

Director Alan Burgon says that they have left the original script intact: “We have pared nothing down.” As always, they eschew elaborate sets or costumes, instead relying on acting ability to create their own interpretation and bring the piece to life. Burgon will also play Dr. Chasuble, a naive young rector who is pursued by the older and more experienced Ms. Prism, Cardew’s governess.

Artistic director Robert G. Neumayr will also share the limelight this time playing the formidable Lady Bracknell. When asked about the choice to cast Neumayr, who is normally backstage, Burgon remarked that the choice was easy: “He is a gifted actor, he plays the role very well … and I just wanted to see Robert in a dress.”

The Importance of Being Earnest
© Hannah Neuhuber

Burgon is hoping that audiences will have as much fun watching as they do performing. For Thomas Middler, who plays Moncrieff, the hilarity of the plot and the biting wit can be infectious on stage: “These people are so easy to get carried away with, this mix of flamboyance and foolishness!”

The Importance of Being Earnest

Theater Spielraum, Tues–Sat, March 14-23, 19:30