Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Moonbox Productions opens their 2013-2014 season with Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people,” The Importance of Being Earnest. It will be playing at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre from November 22 to December 14. Moonbox is partnering with High Spirit Community Farm, a local non-profit organization that gives adults with disabilities a home and a meaningful job.
Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest follows two young men who fall in love with different women under the assumed name “Ernest.” Everything goes awry when the women discover that they are not, in fact, earnest. This witty comedy surrounds mistaken identities and the trivialities of life.
Moonbox’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest stays true to the original text. Director Allison Olivia Choat keeps the piece simple, assuming that Wilde’s original text needs no major modifications or additions. Though this is the case, it does not allow for her voice as a director to shine through. It seems as though only the bare minimum was achieved when it comes to set design and lighting. However, the lack of music is an excellent fit. Music is only heard when a character plays it and sound effects are rarely invoked and used solely for comical effect. Sound designer Dan Costello acknowledges that Wilde’s precise dialogue speaks for itself and would only be hindered by musical accompaniment.
The use of a thrust stage—a stage that has seating on three sides—allows the performance to come to life. It brings the audience closer to the action and draws them in. This creates a realistic feel and allows the audience to forget they are watching a play. Even the two intermissions did not detract from the viewing experience, during which the butlers, Lane (Matthew Zahnzinger) and Merriman (Ray O’Hare), rearranged the set as though they were simply cleaning the house. This makes the transitions sleek and enjoyable.
Due to the minor use of staging, lighting, and sound, the actors are forced to carry the entire play. This is no problem for the talented cast. Earnest is well cast and the actors perform their parts very well, with only a couple minor slip-ups. Andrew Winson plays the easily angered Jack Worthing with vigor and the intense seriousness that is expected of him. Cat Claus plays his love interest, the superficial Gwendolen. Catherine Lee Christie’s Miss Prism and Gabriel Graetz’s Chasuble have great chemistry. And Poornima Kirby plays Cecily Cardew with the childish air that is expected of her character, but adds her own touch of eccentricity and wonder to the character.
The two actors that really stand out in their roles are Glen Moore as Algernon Moncrieff and Ed Peed as Lady Bracknell. Moore is incredibly emotive, showing a wide range within the character. He is quick with wit and dialogue and his face is incredibly expressive. The audience understands exactly what he is thinking and plotting, even when he is simply eating cucumber sandwiches. He steals focus during nearly every scene and has no trouble garnering laughs.
As soon as a man is cast to play the part of Lady Bracknell, the play runs the risk of becoming a joke. However, Peed plays the role impeccably and without any sense of irony. He bears the essence of the brash, irritable gentlewoman as she is intended to be played. His cold stares could silence a room, let alone Lady Bracknell’s daughter, Gwendolen. Peed never misses a beat, which results in the heartiest laughs from the audience.
Though Moonbox’s Importance of Being Earnest is an incredibly simple production, Wilde’s hilarious and clever dialogue is brought to life by the talented cast. This production is only being performed for a few weeks, so head over to the BCA Theatre soon!