Outside the Guthrie where The Importance of Being Earnest is being shown from Sept. 9 to Oct. 15. The Importance of Being Earnest is about two friends who make up extravagant personas that get them into trouble.
Outside the Guthrie where “The Importance of Being Earnest” is being shown from Sept. 9 to Oct. 15. “The Importance of Being Earnest” is about two friends who make up extravagant personas that get them into trouble.
Fair use image from the Guthrie Theater

‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ opens with critics calling it “A perfectly crafted comedy.”

A comfortable and familiar chill goes through the room as you enter the theater space of the Guthrie. Soft piano music plays from the pit as people file into the room and fill their seats, anticipating another performance from the good actors of the theater. The lights dim to pitch black after a short delay and the room is completely silent as the actors take the stage. After a few more seconds, the lights slowly come back on to reveal the character of Algernon as he begins his opening dialogue. 

The Guthrie theater has long since been a prominent venue for theater-goers since 1963. The theater started from the ideas and conversations of Sir Tyrone Guthrie and two colleagues who were not as infatuated with Broadway as others. Guthrie wanted to make a theater with the highest professional standards and put on performances of the great classics. He toured several  cities as locations for his theater, but decided on Minneapolis/St. Paul above all others because of the enthusiasm of the residents for a new theater project and the thriving cultural community. 

David Ivers is the director of this production of “The Importance of Being Earnest”, but it is not his first time directing a show for the Guthrie. His past productions at the Guthrie include “Blithe Spirit” and “The Cocoanuts” and he has directed productions of other plays in places like Arizona and Utah. He has also been a part of many theater festivals all over the nation. 

The actors expertly bring their characters to life on the Guthrie’s stage, but various cast members might be recognized from their performances on popular television. Cast members have appeared in notable shows such as “Law and Order”, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “The Walking Dead”, “Chicago P.D.”, “A Simple Plan”, “Wu Tang: An American Saga”, “The Devil’s Own, FBI” and the classic midwestern movie “Fargo”.

The playwright, Oscar Wilde, is not unknown in the world of theater either. Before “The Importance of Being Earnest” Oscar Wilde wrote many plays such as, The Canterville Ghost, An Ideal Husband, Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Duchess of Padua. He also wrote a popular novel called The Picture of Dorian Gray that gained him acclaim in the literary world as well. 

Each actor really gets into their character, which becomes evident as the play goes on and even further cements the actors as one of the main center pieces of what makes this play great.

Jokes and banter between characters in this play are well written and get a lot of laughs from the audience. Even in the opening moments of the play the audience is laughing from beginning to end. The name of Earnest plays a big part in the play and is the set up for most of the running jokes. The ladies the main characters pine after love the name Earnest so much they claim that they wouldn’t marry any man not named Earnest. Chemistry between the actors really adds to the humor of the jokes as well and really brings the characters to life. 

Set and costume design are also very good. The elegant scenes of house interiors with the ornate furniture, paired with excellent lighting, creates an experience that alongside the costume design is both quite entertaining and aesthetically pleasing. As Algernon adopts a persona of his own he dresses in rich clothing that one might see a man of great wealth wear while riding a horse. Costumes like those are not few and far between and have the ruffles and frills of the 19th century that fit the formalness of the time period and the characters. 

Actor’s performances are stellar in this piece of theater as well. Each character has their own unique personality and mannerisms that each actor brings out very well. Line delivery and physical comedy are different for each character but it adds to the overall enjoyment of the play and fleshes out the characters to be more likable as you watch. In the early moments of the play as the character of Jack is explaining the persona he made to the character of Algernon he listens by roaming around the room and making extravagant poses on various furniture.

Each actor really gets into their character, which becomes evident as the play goes on and even further cements the actors as one of the main center pieces of what makes this play great. 

Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is absolutely worth watching if you like comedies and other pieces of media set in the 19th century time period. If you like aesthetically pleasing costume design, impeccable acting, and a comfortable viewing experience. The entertaining play will have you laughing from beginning to end so go see “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the Guthrie Theater.

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