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‘Earnest’ earneth a lot of laughs



Proving that 21st century technology has had no effect on the human heart, Live Theatre Workshop has prepared its own version of Oscar Wilde’s 1895 classic, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Now that it’s popular again to boast of having an expensive wardrobe, this comedy of manners and misfits feels as timely as ever.

Wilde aimed his snappy satire straight at upper class England’s ardor for artifice. The idealism of true love among the wealthy didn’t fare much better as both Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff seem to value the most superficial qualities in the objects of their competing heart’s desires – lovely Gwendolyn and equally lovely Cecily.

This being one of the most frequently produced plays in the English language, even more than “Cats,” most everyone has seen it presented at least once. Dana Armstrong is directing this production.

But just to freshen up your memory of the plot, here’s how it goes.

Jack (played by Jeremy Thompson) has a home in London and a second home in the country. He also has a second life, calling himself Ernest when he is up to mischief in town with eager Gwendolyn (Missie Scheffman). Then being respectable Jack out where it is more pastoral. And where he has been appointed the guardian of his young niece, Cecily (Molly Holleran).

So when Jack/Ernest’s ambitious pal Algernon (Cliff Madison) learns of the mysterious beauty Jack/Ernest has closeted away out in the country, Algernon figures he’ll pay the alleged Jack a friendly visit. Just to play it safe, Algernon decides he will introduce himself as Ernest should he meet up with Cecily.

Well, sure the plot is lots more devious than a television sitcom. That’s what makes “The Importance of Being Earnest” a classic. And don’t forget, there is the outlandish Lady Bracknell (Linda Andresano), who never met a situation so complicated she can’t make it even more complicated.

But not to worry. This is a comedy, after all. While the playwright gets in his digs about a strata of society with more money than sense, we still get to enjoy a happy ending.

• • •

if you go

What: Live Theatre Workshop presents “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays – Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, to Feb. 6.

Where: Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd.

Tickets: $10 all seats today and tomorrow, $13-$15 opening night Jan. 1 and continuing through Feb. 6. For details and reservations, call 327-4242.

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