Context is everything in Theater 21’s new production

Theater 21 returns with a hilarious modern reimagining of, "The Importance of Being Earnest."

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Context is everything in Theater 21’s new production

Senior theater major Shannon Dodson, playing Elaine, and sophomore communications studies major Jacob Moran, playing Algernon Moncrieff, rehearse for their upcoming production of

Senior theater major Shannon Dodson, playing Elaine, and sophomore communications studies major Jacob Moran, playing Algernon Moncrieff, rehearse for their upcoming production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Senior theater major Shannon Dodson, playing Elaine, and sophomore communications studies major Jacob Moran, playing Algernon Moncrieff, rehearse for their upcoming production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Senior theater major Shannon Dodson, playing Elaine, and sophomore communications studies major Jacob Moran, playing Algernon Moncrieff, rehearse for their upcoming production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Tyler Davis, Writer

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Senior theater major Shannon Dodson, playing Elaine, and sophomore communications studies major Jacob Moran, playing Algernon Moncrieff, rehearse for their upcoming production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

 

Theater 21 returns with a hilarious and fantastically casted production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance Of Being Earnest,” directed by assistant professor of theater Forrest Robinson. The witty banter and cheeky delivery of Wilde’s beloved comedy make this production exceedingly entertaining and captivating. The play has been transplanted from it’s original setting in London and was reimagined in modern day America.

“Growing up in South Carolina, I saw a lot of parallels in the political climate of Savannah in the 1990’s and the turn of the century in London,” Robinson said.

This change in context gives the production an unexpected twist that adds to the hilarity of the play with the dialogue spoken in thick-as-molasses Savannah accents. But Robinson carefully preserved Wilde’s vision.

“I didn’t change anything that Oscar Wilde wouldn’t approve of, just street names and things like that,” insisted Robinson.

The play follows Algernon Moncrieff and and his best friend John Worthing, who goes by Earnest. Both men have created fictional personae to avoid unpleasant social interactions and live double lives in the country and the city. Hijinks ensue as the two haphazardly attempt to become engaged to two different women, both men assuming the identity of Earnest Worthing.

The set design evokes a country club aesthetic with intricate fireplace mantels and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The men dress in Ralph Lauren button downs, khaki pants and driving moccasins, while the women assume the roles of stereotypical southern belles in gaudy dresses.

Jacob Moran is superb in the role of Algernon, never missing a beat of the rapid-fire dialogue with a charisma that quite frankly steals the show. The natural chemistry between [last name] and his co-star [name] is undoubtedly the show’s strongest point. The two men’s bickering and slapstick antics fit right in the spirit of comedy duos like Steve Martin and John Candy.

Film is a beautiful medium, but there remains something special and unique about seeing live acting and this play testifies to that phenomenon. The theater’s size allows the audience to be up close and personal with the actors, to see the expressions on their face and their more subtle mannerisms, making for a distinct and intimate experience. If looking for laughs at an affordable price, look no further than this production. I have no doubt that Mr. Wilde himself would appreciate this iteration of his beloved work.