THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNESTby Oscar Wilde
Lakeside Community Theatre
Director - John Rodgers
Assistant Director/Costume Design/Hair Design - Kristy Sims
Stage Manager - Ariana Cox
Scenic Design/Property Design - Elise Knox & Dakoda Taylor
Lighting Design - Rustin Rolen
Board Operator - Jeri Swindler Tellez
Algernon Moncrief - Matthew Stepanek
Jack Worthing - Toby Q.
Lady Bracknell - Pamela Cowser
Gwendolen Fairfax - Courtney Turner
Cecily Cardew - Isabell Moon
Miss Prism - Ellen Bell
Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D. - Joseph Horst
Lane/Merriman - Dakoda Taylor
Footman - Kilgore Trout
Reviewed Performance: 3/9/2019
Reviewed by Rebecca Roberts, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Due to a convoluted case of mistaken identity – one that Shakespeare himself would be proud to have penned – two sets of couples fall in and out and back into love, over the course of the play. Ostentatious Algernon and reserved Jack both take on the non-existent persona of Earnest Worthing to go on anonymous adventures and make their significant others (Cecily and Gwendolen, respectively) fall in love with them.
Matthew Stepanek perfectly embodied the role of Algernon Moncrief the second he graced the stage. His demeanor, stage presence, and vocal swagger made him immediately stand out. Stepanek delivered Wilde’s complicated dialogue with ease, and his British accent was perfectly posh. Truly my only issue with his performance was his choice to look directly into the eyes of audience members when delivering a majority of his dialogue; something that did not suit the style of the show at all. It created moments of extreme awkwardness while I was watching the production, and made me feel as though I had to divert my eyes from the main onstage action. However, the audience (myself included) ate up Stepanek’s onstage antics and he gave us an unforgettable performance.
While the character of Jack is actually supposed to be older than Algernon (a plot point only made important by a chance discovery at the very end of the play), Toby Q. as Jack was decidedly not the elder of the two. Perhaps this was only distracting to those aware of the discrepancy from the beginning. However, Toby’s youthfulness did not quite match Stepanek’s onstage vivacity, and left his performance a bit wanting. Toby would occasionally get tongue-tied when trying to deliver his difficult dialogue, and his mannerisms rarely seemed to be rooted in character motivation. That said, his dedication and enthusiasm for the role and production was very clear in his performance.
Isabell Moon brought a fresh take to the role of Cecily Cardew. Her sassy and shrewd delivery of dialogue was dependably enjoyable. And Moon delightfully matched Stepanek’s energy and tone, as Algernon’s love interest. Alternatively, Courtney Turner played Gwendolen Fairfax in a very even tempered and unsurprising manner. While there were a few moments of missed comedic delivery, Turner was very consistent in her clear tone and elegant mannerisms.
Pamela Cowser as Lady Bracknell was a total riot. She delivered every line perfectly and never once missed an opportunity for a laugh. Cowser truly commanded the stage from the moment she entered. Likewise Ellen Bell as Miss Prism stole each scene she was in, but in a very different way. Her demure intonations and gesticulations at once established her character’s exceedingly peculiar personality. Both Cowser and Bell were captivating actors in their extremely contrasting roles.
Director John Rodgers and assistant director Kristy Sims did an excellent job in blocking a very consistently balanced production. The cast moved through the show and its complicated dialogue fairly smoothly. And Rodgers/Sims’ vision for the show was clearly executed, with very intentional choices made in its interpretation. Rodgers/Sims were able to find new and exciting ways to produce this classic, well established play!
Elise Knox and Dakoda Taylor devised minimal scenic designs to adorn the theatre’s intimate stage. Three small flats were used to indicate the three acts’ locations. I enjoyed the intricate details that were clearly put into the set dressings, especially at Algernon’s bachelor’s pad, which housed a cricket bat and an affinity for oriental aesthetics. However, much of the furniture used to dress each location was extremely mismatched and out of place – for example, the wicker patio furniture used for the set of a (supposedly) fancy manor house drawing room.
Kristy Sims barely covered the basics, as hair and costume designer. The costumes were simplistic and encompassed a widely discombobulated spectrum of time periods and styles. Ill-fitting pants, non-existent accessories, and polyester white blouses were the order of the day. The only place where Sims’ efforts could truly be applauded were in her establishing Algernon as the eccentric and ostentatious character he is, through the use of velvet patterned blazers and flamboyant shoes. While not necessarily period correct, each of his costumes made for a very interesting and colorful display.
Even though most of the design choices were severely minimal and sometimes distracting, this hilarious staging of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is still absolutely worth seeing. Hearing the little boy seated behind me vocally experience the twists and turns of the play was such an excellent reminder that young people NEED to experience the classics! Support local theatre by checking out Lakeside Community Theatre’s production, and find out for yourself “the vital importance of being Earnest.”
Lakeside Community Theatre
6303 Main Street
The Colony, TX 75056
Plays through March 23rd.
Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturday, March 16th at 8:00 pm; Saturday, March 23rd at 3:00pm.
Tickets range from $10-15.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.lctthecolony.com or call their box office at 214-801-4869.