I am a certifiably Bad Theatre Person. Before last night, I had refused to have anything to do with Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest--refused to read the script, endure the ubiquitous stagings, watch the film. Perhaps this is excusable? High school and undergraduate years proved to be one nearly-unending stream of badly acted Earnest scenes. I am happy to say--quick toss of the hair--that The Distracted Globe has cured me of such snobbery.
Director Jerrold Scott sets the play in the 1960s: high-fashion London. Expect delicious costumery and makeup, exquisite posturing, and music that kept several audience members singing along at intermission. Also expect some whiz-bang character actors.
Ryan Bradburn's Algernon and Roberta Barnes' Gwendolen are so flamboyant in their over-hyped (and over-sexed) 60s personae that it's hard to take your eyes off 'em. Their glorious poses and expressions are a treat. I could have wished for just a smidge more grounding in Algernon--he's already wickedly funny, but a tinge of emotional truth would have made him irresistible. Jared Johnson (playing the servants Lane and Merriman) also deserves quick props for drawing out the most laughs without even talking.
But most of all, there is The Lady Bracknell. And since I am speaking of the queen of snobbery, I will confess to a bit more snobbery of my own. I adore Anne Kelly Tromsness, believe her to be one of the most versatile actresses I've seen in my three years of Greenville theatre-ing. Even so, I had a moment of doubt--Tromsness as Bracknell? Eh. We'll see. (See? Snobbery. Snobbery-snobbery-snobbery.)
Well, phooey on snobbery--Tromsness has me in spades on this one. She is exact (and exacting) as the snotty London socialite, flowing through motions and inflections so precise that she is terrifying. You could bump into this Lady Bracknell on the street. (If she ever deigned to frequent your side of the street, that is.) Tromsness' baffling precision may well be one of the highlights of my theatre season--and at only $7.50 a ticket.
$7.50. Kudos to Distracted Globe for providing affordable theatre that does not affront the sensibilities of the snobs among us (namely, me). Snob though I may be, after last night, I will happily seek out another Earnest. I just hope it's as pretty as this one.
Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," Directed by Jerrold Scott
Presented by The Distracted Globe at Warehouse Theatre, 37 Augusta St., Greenville (864) 235-6948. Through August 7. Tickets $7.50.