The Importance of Being Earnest | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Importance of Being Earnest 

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Mayslake Hall provides an appropriately posh setting for Oscar Wilde's comedy about the tribulations of 19th-century England's upper crust. When two bachelors take the same alter ego named Ernest--one to avoid responsibility ("Ernest did it!"), the other to trick a young woman--the resulting misunderstandings make for amusing farce and for plenty of Wilde's catty observations ("Women will call each other 'Sister' only after they have called each other many other things first"). Director Alison C. Vesely and cast deliver a crisp, astute rendition of this classic, for the most part nailing the timing, the sarcasm, and (with some exceptions) the dialect. Particularly fetching are Kevin McKillip's rakish Algernon, Leah Wagner's delicate Cecily, and Tony Dombrowolski's Wagnerian Lady Bracknell (think Queen Victoria meets Divine). And though the venue is drafty, in the winter it has distinct advantages over the First Folio Shakespeare Festival's traditional stage--outdoors. Through 2/12: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM. Peabody Estate at Mayslake, Mayslake Hall, 1717 W. 31st St. (west of Rte. 83), Oak Brook, 630-986-8067. $25.

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