We’re all for synergy, but the collaborative production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest by Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and Oklahoma City University’s TheatreOCU makes one wonder why all that theatrical brainpower couldn’t come up with a better product.
Director Lance Marsh’s cast operates with energy, but the effect is less than the sum of its parts. Still, the production does have some noteworthy performances in this 1895 satirical comedy about the eccentricities of the Victorian aristocracy.
The draw of the show is Michael Jones as Lady Bracknell. One of our finest stage directors and a consistently able actor, Jones plays her ladyship with the stateliness of a giant sequoia and the subtlety of a battleship. Thankfully, he gives this seat-numbing production some much-needed life.
Plus, costume designer Robert Pittenridge’s gowns and hats for Lady Bracknell would draw attention in a high-camp Easter parade.
With devilish good looks and a rakish mustache, Andi Dema is excellent as one of the suitors who finds out the hard way the true importance of being Ernest. The object of his eye is played by Renee Lawrence, whose pliable, expressive face matches her delightful comedic acting. It would be nice to see Dema and Lawrence in more productions.