Theater often has the ability to offer audiences a respite from their daily lives. Bakersfield Community Theater has your passport to getting away from it all with its new production “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
“The show is a comedy, and frankly, we could all have a good laugh after nearly two years of COVID,” director Cathy Henry wrote in an email.
This Oscar Wilde play, which he subtitled ‘A Trivial Play for Serious People’, is about how seriously people, especially upper-class people, take themselves, and offers a social satire that turns mocks the structure of Victorian society and the expectations of the upper classes, says Henry.
“The dialogue is very witty, but often reveals the disdain Wilde had for the society in which he lived, a society which followed his essays on the arts with enthusiasm and, on the other hand, shunned him for his lifestyle” , Henry wrote. “His characters will, in all sincerity, say one thing and almost immediately turn around and contradict themselves.”
“Earnest” centers on Jack Worthing (Perrin Swanson), who in Hertfordshire leads a responsible life as landowner, justice of the peace and guardian of Cecily (Jerusha Crystian). Jack also maintains that he has a black sheep brother named Ernest who often gets himself into trouble from which he must be rescued, providing Jack with an alibi to fly off to London for days without obligations.
The real trouble begins when his best friend, Algernon (Josh Carruthers), finds out Jack is leading a double life when Jack/Ernest plans to propose to Algernon’s sister, Gwendolen (Lindsay Pearson). Algernon then takes on the nickname Ernest at Jack’s country estate where the lies and deceit become frenzied.
The show also features the talents of Gary Enns, Roy Scarazzo Jr., Patrick Carrick, Cari Walker and Ronnie Warren, who, in addition to playing Algernon and Gwendolen’s mother, Lady Bracknell, also served as a dialect coach for the casting.
Henry wrote, “Her expertise really helped the cast master upper-class British pronunciation.”
Although set in Victorian England, the play stays fresh by exploring themes of society and public image, Henry said.
“I think what intrigued me about working with this piece was the modern idea of influencers, people who use social media to set rules or expectations about what’s currently in the air. fashion. The characters in ‘Earnest’ are full of commentary and opinions about what everyone or no one is doing, and there are all kinds of funny and clever lines about how one should behave.”
The director can’t wait to see how audiences enjoy this wacky comedy.
“I wish viewers had a good laugh at the silliness of the characters’ points of view and situations, and then maybe later take a moment to think about how silly there may be in our own points of view and expectations. I’m sure all of us can find some.”
Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.