The Importance of Being Earnest – Review by Bonnie Goldberg


If you devote your time and talents creating lies and deceptions, surely at some point you will be caught and unmasked as a prevaricator. For Algernon Moncrieff ((Stephen Pettway) and Jack Worthing (Nick Nudler), the game of being two people at the same time, a gentleman of the country and a gentleman of the town, having alter egos provides them with the best of both worlds. Two sets of lifestyles allows them to act out mischief that their good breeding would otherwise never allow.

To become acquainted with these inventive men, run over to the Jorgensen Auditorium on the campus of the University of Connecticut for a romp, courtesy of Oscar Wilde, the delightful comedy of manners and mores, “The Importance of Being Earnest” playing until Sunday, October 15. Here you will meet star-crossed lovers who have a formidable obstacle in the personage of Lady Bracknell (Liz McCartney), a slew of mistaken identities, plates of cucumber sandwiches prepared by the servant Lane (Coleman Churchill) and bread and butter assembled by the butler (Anthony Giovino), a black leather handbag lost by the tutor Miss Prism (Vivienne James) decades earlier, a missing cigarette case and two ladies’ fascination with the name Ernest and the necessity of that being the name of the man each will marry.

Algernon Moncrieff has handily created an invalid friend Bumbary who conveniently gets ill whenever Algernon needs an excuse to go or to avoid going anywhere. For Jack, it is a disreputable brother Ernest who gets into trouble on a regular basis in town. When the two men determine they wish to wed, Jack to Gwendolen Fairfax (Tabatha Gayle) and Algernon to Cecily Cardew (Gillian Rae Pardi), they discover they must quickly “kill” off their pretended deceptions, change their Christian names to Ernest to please their beloveds with the aid of the good reverend (Jacob Harris Wright) and gain approval of their engagements.

Jack must win the endorsement of Gwendolen’s mother Lady Bracknell, who sails into the fray as a war ship with cannons bursting, while Algernon has to gain acceptance from his old pal Jack who is Cecily’s guardian. Strange circumstances make for humorous situations as “all’s well that ends well” results when the mystery of the baby abandoned in a handbag is finally resolved. Jean Randich directs this fun merry-go-round with ease, with lovely costumes created by Taowen Pan, inventive lighting by Danielle Verkennes and a clever set designed by Pedro L. Guevara.

For tickets ($10-33) call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre in Storrs at 860-486-2113 or online at Performances are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, October 11, you can buy tickets to Dine With Design, including entrees and dessert, and eat with members of the creative team for a unique behind-the-scenes experience.

Watch Lady Bracknell put both suitors through their paces as she determines their eligibility and suitability as potential husband material. Have fun watching them both dance to her piper’s tunes.