A review of Los Angeles Pierce College’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” written by Oscar Wilde, directed by Shaheen Vaaz, and running through October 31.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a classic of the British stage. Revered. Beloved. An enduring moment in time much performed and frequently dismissed as fluff. It’s a real favourite of mine. I love the frippery, the timelessness, the achingly beautiful words and biting Victorian satire. Oscar Wilde could turn a phrase, that’s for sure, and this play is one of his finest. Although, sadly, it was his last.
So, taking it on is a brave task, particularly in a place so far from the conventions of its time. But then perhaps that is the point. Oscar Wilde himself was a man utterly out of time and place, which was, in the end, his downfall.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a shameless farce on the social conventions of late Victorian London, Wilde’s universe. But the trivialisation of contemporary institutions and the satirisation of custom and traditionis as relevant as ever.
The MainStage at Los Angeles Pierce College (LAPC) is a wonderful setting for this production. The classical raised stage and large auditorium gives it gravitas and the space needed for the actors to gallivant and flit about just as the play intended. Farce needs a bit of room to work at its best. Also, the set is also beautifully done throughout, flamboyant yet refined, clever and highly effective.
As for the performances I don’t envy the actors their task. I thought perhaps they would not attempt the clipped English really required for these tricky puns and artful comedic banter to land. But they surprised me and everyone did an absolutely splendid job.
The ladies were naughty and hilarious, the gentlemen aptly full of fervour, and Lady Bracknell more than sufficiently battleship-like. The servants delightfully stoic and the reverend and Ms. Prism truly charming.
Bravo for pulling it off! And thank you for giving this work the attention it deserves. I’m so happy to be back in the theatre and so grateful that it’s to see productions so lovingly made.
The cast features Megan Araneta, Jonathan Bowen, Anthony Cantrell, Tomas Ciriaco, Robert Dracic, Vanessa Hanish, Matthew Hawkins-Bolano, Rachel Logan, Olga Medkova, Danni Rabani and Kayvan Shai.
Los Angeles Pierce College’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” is directed by Shaheen Vaaz. The production features scenic design by Gene Putman, costume design by Eileen Gizienski, lighting design by Michael Gend and sound design by Presley Jacobs. Roya Row is the stage manager.
Running October 22 – 31, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm
Los Angeles Pierce College MainStage
6201 Winnetka Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91371