Oscar Wilde would probably be happy with the opening night effort of the GB Community Theatre with one his most familiar works, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Wilde wrote nine plays, but only four of them are recognizable titles. This show’s title is a pun on the name of a fictional character — Ernest — in the script.
Satirizing the morality of Victorian society, Wilde used the character of Jack Worthing to point out that the British Aristocracy was not always what it seemed to be. A newcomer to the Ashtabula Arts Center stage, David Ard did a commendable job as the major protagonist in this production. He might have been just a little more convincing when in the role of his alter-ego, but all in all, his performance was professional.
Cast in the role of Algernon Moncrieff, Justin Brand displayed the mannerisms of a foppish dandy of the times. He, too, had an alter ego, but one he created out of his need to display his artistry as well as to have a reason to leave the city. Brand’s treatment of his character was probably what Wilde had in mind when he set his playwright pen to paper.
The young ladies in the play — Gwendolen and Cecily — had their own idiosyncrasies to deal with, and Ashley Perts and Moh Ruane, respectively, certainly expounded those oddities with panache.
Being the one major character that has tread the boards most, Linda Fundis portrayed Lady Bracknell with pomp and authority, resulting in much laughter from the audience. Her station in British Aristocracy was what Wilde took pot shots at with his wordsmanship. She was quite a target with her values that changed whenever the topic of British pounds entered the conversation.
Others in supporting roles helped to paint a picture of British society during the Victorian era and the places people should occupy in that stratum. Theatergoers will be treated to a history lesson that is full of misspeaks and laughter.
“Earnest” continues tonight and Saturday night at 8 and Sunday afternoon at 2. Tickets may be arranged by phoning the box office at the Ashtabula Arts Center at 964-3396.