Hantman plays Jack as relatively subdued, which lets Gregory — a Consortium student and the only non-Equity actor on the stage — set the comic pace. He does so with a delightfully personable Algernon. Also standing out is Brazil, who comically sexualizes Gwendolen with such touches as a lubricious slow grind when she says that the name Ernest "produces vibrations."
Director Milles ringmasters with a broad comic tone, such as when she has the Cupid-pierced parson and governess simultaneously leap away in joyous frolic. More significantly, Milles more than once has characters who have just expressed deep emotional bonds upon meeting sit silently together, having exhausted all socially prescribed conversation. Social conventions and social standing is all these people see, instead of one another.
An additional, brooding character is the autumnal set design by Michael McGarty. Dead leaves surround the low platform stage, which is bracketed by flower-free arbor vines and leafless trees, a gilded proscenium arch in the far background, like a memory. There are fancy period furnishings in the foreground along with William Lane's elegant costumes, for when we are again captivated, back in the thrall of the "trivial" entertainment.
The real background of this play is our recollections, however vague, of Wilde's demise. Earnest, his last and most popular work, was first staged only months before his reputation collapsed after he was exposed as a homosexual.
Wilde refers in the play to "going Bunburying" and being a "Bunburyist" almost as much as to Bunbury himself, which shows a wink-wink, nudge-nudge insouciance about sodomy, the double entendre that cannot speak its name. Yes, it was also hypocrisy, but with a gun to Wilde's too-clever head. What further marvelous plays we could have had if it had not gone off.
, Entertainment, Performing Arts, Janice Duclos, More