CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE
A Woman of No Importance
OSCAR WILDE'S "A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE" AT YALE REP
BY BONNIE GOLDBERG
To Oscar Wilde, society was a coveted place of privilege, a lofty ledge from which the aristocrats
peered down at those beneath them, much as picnickers would regard ants. With great wit and bon
mots, Wilde skewers the dowagers and dukes for their pompousness and pretentiousness, the better
they may fall from their precarious perches.
To witness how the idle rich get their jollies and their just rewards, settle in at the Yale Repertory
Theatre in New Haven for a hearty dose of the clever Wilde in "A Woman of No Importance" playing
until Saturday, April 12.
Enter a lovely English estate, courtesy of Lauren Rockman, and peopled with lush costumes by Anya
Klepikov, just in time for high tea and low level banter. The idle rich enjoy trading witticisms about
women, morality and the poor being kept in their place. The play fairly drips with pithy comments such
as "English women conceal their feelings until they are married," "Women are always on the side of
morality," "It is easier to believe everyone is evil," and the advise to "Talk to every woman as if you
loved her and to every man as if he bored you."
These quips are exchanged over tea by the mistress of the house Lady Hunstanton (Patricia Kilgarriff)
with her guests Mrs. Allonby (Rene Augesen), Lady Stutfield (Felicity Jones), Mr. Kelvil (Michael
Rudko), Lady Pontefract (Judith-Marie Bergan) and her husband John (Anthony Newfield). The
gathering goes all abuzz when the young and eager Gerald Arbuthnot (Bryce Pinkham) announces that
the great Lord Illingworth (Geordie Johnson) has asked him to be his personal secretary.
That grand announcement prompts Lady Hunstanton to invite Gerald's mother, played by a formidable
Kate Forbes, to join the party. The second half of the play is devoted to secrets and revelations that
have immense impact on Gerald, his mother, his new employer and the idealistic young guest from
America Miss Worsley (Erica Sullivan). James Bundy directs this complicated drawing room comedy
that reveals the artificial prejudices of the upper class and the heartbreaks these can cause.
For tickets ($35-58), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at
www.yalerep.org. ; Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m.
Don't be so seduced by Lord Illingworth's scintillating charm that you might be tempted to believe
anything that emerges from his sanctimonious mouth.
4/03/08 MIDDLETOWN PRESS