The Importance of Being Earnest

By Olivia Munk11th Grade, Bronx High School of Science I was unsure how I would feel seeing one of my favorite plays, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, staged. When I read it two summers ago, I decided what each character looked and acted like. This meant that when I arrived to see the Broadway production, I was worried that the physical manifes­tation would ruin the words that I had devoured from the page. When the curtains first opened, a lavish set of an aristocratic London man­or met my skeptical eyes. That wasn’t what I had expected, as my copy of the script noted that staging can be done using curtains to avoid confusion, and that “the sparkling, enduring lines…will carry the play regardless.” I was thrown yet another curve ball when Santino Fontana played Algernon as extremely dynamic and deliciously conniving — much different from the collected gentleman laying on insults in a perfect deadpan that I had imagined. These weren’t the only things that made the production stand apart from my previous inter­pretation of the script. Jokes play differently as the actors employed inflection and enuncia­tion that simply didn’t read in my own head. As my fellow plogger, Zoe, remarked, “When you see it onstage, you understand the jokes more easily. The sheer experience of being at a theater is quite different than being curled up in your bed reading a book. The buzz of the audience was un­deniable, and I couldn’t help but feel an adrenaline rush at the thought of shar­ing such brilliant comedy with people who enjoy it as much as I do. My favorite part of the production was the performance by Brian Bedford (also the director of this production), dripping with lace and jewels to por­tray the venerable Lady Bracknell. A revered actor, his behavior as Aunt Augusta was not for a moment like anything you would see on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Each word seemed to drip with deliberation, something that doesn’t translate in straight reading. I am very pleased with how The Importance of Being Earnest was portrayed in this particular production and would recommend it to any Wilde aficionado. TICKETS: thru 7/3 • $22 general rush • American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. website