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Stratford Festival 2009 – Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest

The Arts2009-7-20By: Classical Staff

reviewed by Paula Citron
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The Importance of Being Earnest
Stratford Festival 2009
Written by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Brian Bedford
Starring Mike Shara, Ben Carlson, Brian Bedford, Sara Topham, Andrea Runge, Sarah Dodd and Stephen Ouimette
At the Avon Theatre until Oct. 30

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My problem with The Importance of Being Earnest is that I know the play so well that I wait for Wilde’s next clever aphorism. This does not preclude my enjoying the play if the production is lively and I’m getting a fresh spin on dialogue and character.

Director Brian Bedford certainly keeps a lively pace, and has deepened personalities. For example, Ben Carlson’s John Worthing is a far more Mr. Sobersides as is suitable, while Stephen Ouimette’s Rev. Canon Chasuble is a charming man of substance rather than a doddering fool.

Since Bedford is playing Lady Bracknell, one is assured of a character rather than a caricature and his portrayal is eerily realistic. Mike Shara is a genuinely sly and conniving Algernon Moncrieff. Sara Topham as Gwendolen and Sarah Dodd as Miss Prism are veterans who turn in good performances, but the delight is new girl Andrea Runge as Cecily.

The Importance of Being Earnest continues at the Avon Theatre until Oct. 30.

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