I’m completely blanking on any sort of a clever intro for this post, so let’s just dive into it shall we? Last nite was an evening I’d been looking very much forward to, not only as my return to the Gladstone Theatre (not dead yet! )(but really not looking too hopeful now either…), but for the premiere show by new company Plosive Productions. The brainchild of local theatre action heroes David Whitely (who I totally spotted at SINS OF THE MOTHER last week), Kel Parsons, Teri Loretto Valentik and Fiona Currie, Plosive was in the house to kick off their decidedly populist mandate with Oscar Wilde’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.
Setting their version in India under the British Raj, Plosive gave their version of Wilde’s tale a killer aesthetic boost right from the get go, not to mention heightening the sense of class barriers. A few folks I overheard in the lobby seemed a bit offput by the change of scenery from the classic text..even Citizen critic and part-time doodyhead Patrick Langston rebelled at the new locale. So, some people did not like the idea.
Personally, I was delighted with the whole damn show, not the least of which is the epic cast Plosive brought in under Whitely’s direction. Where do I start? The group ranged from 20 year vets of the stage to high school student debuts, but everyone hit their strides impressively. Sean Conforti as Lane steals a whole scene using nothing but a slow-moving fan, and Henna Kaur Sodhi entrances as nervous young Merriman (and she can DANCE..!). Kel Parsons is just plain wicked fun as the Imperious Lady Bracknell, and her interactions with our hero Earnest, played by Stewart Matthews, are great stuff. Matthews makes a wonderful comic lead, fawning over Katie Bunting’s hilarious Gwendolyn with heroic ineptitude.
I could go on…and screw it, I will. Gladstone mainstay Chris Ralph shines as usual as Dr.Chasuble, playing merrily off of Teri Loretto’s hammy Miss Prism. And Bronwyn Steinberg, charming and gorgeous as willful wee Cecily, throws herself into her lines with wonderful gusto.
Which leaves me with Garret Quirk. Now, I’ve dug Quirk for a while now…saw him in SHINING CITY a ways back, was blown away by his Tybalt (in both DEATH OF TYBALT and ROMEO AND JULIET from Salamander), and he hit a comic home run in MECHANICSVILLE MONOLOGUES II. I was pretty jazzed at his being pegged as Algernon in this one, and I’m thrilled to say he didn’t disappoint for a second. Looking like a dandified Archie Andrews, he was every inch the Wilde hero and drew easy laughs from the audience at will. And please ignore the mad ravings of Alvina Ruprecht, my man…you eat all the cucumber sandwiches you want. You’ve earned them.
The show ended, appropriately enough, Bollywood-style, and by that time I was having a hard time imagining why you would NOT want to set this play in India. This EARNEST is a killer fun night out, and I can’t wait to see what Plosive has up their sleeves for their next show. I hope it’s a short wait.
Peace, love and Soul,
the Visitor (and Winston)