Monday, March 23, 2009

The Importance of Being Earnest

Portland Center Stage **Photo credit: Owen Carey**
February 24 - March 29, 2009

Review by peanutduck

First act killed; remaining two, thanks to Nikki Coble, Sharonlee McLean, Tim True, who somehow remain unscathed, just barely survive Chris Coleman’s sledgehammer. Director - Wilde’s wit doesn’t need to be “revealed” – it’s already there; effective comedy doesn’t comment on punchline - it comes from characters’ ignorance of own absurdity.


Anonymous said...

i saw this show advertised on a bus board.
chris coleman's name was nearly as big as oscar wilde's.
that clinched it.
i decided right there and then not to see it.

Ben Waterhouse said...

You aren't missing much.

Anonymous said...

I saw the show with an audience that just loved it -- got the humor, laughs aplenty and delighted in an evening of just -- well, wit.

I wonder here, as I often do when I read criticism of shows that audiences uniformly love, and support with generally generous houses -- do we presume to *know* more than these folks, and therefore are too clever to enjoy the shows we denigrate? How is it that so many people can have so much fun while we sit and glower from the aisle?

I also wonder about the obverse: how is it that we are so sure we're watching (or creating( Staggering Works of Genius when virtually no one attends them, and certainly withholds pecuniary reward?

There seems to be a real disconnect here... either our "insider" information renders us useless in any practical sense when it comes to making theatre and humorless when it comes to enjoying it, and that the poor misguided hoi polloi simply *think* they're having a good time and as such are willing to pay for it -- or we're completely out of touch with reality, and doing ourselves the terrible disservice of denying the joy, and the purpose, of much of theatre.

I don't have a position, though I often shake my head at Staggering Works that just make me tired *and* at crowd pleasers that don't please me.

But there's no denying the schism exists, and I'm curious about it.

Anonymous said...

well first off let me say i agree that the ads were very effective---in keeping me away!
coleman has outstayed his welcome.
as for the schism mentioned herein, the big audiences are made up of subscribers, who, like all of us who actually have money to invest in recreation, just want that slot to be filled -- not too much care is taken to assure it is of quality.
afterall, if i invest in something and it is bad, that means i made a mistake, so by god it IS good dammit.
but they are not always fooled.
one could hear plenty of anger in the lobby at guys and dolls.
there is a great post on that thread that just came in. check it out.
as for the tiny audiences at great shows at smaller venues -- well the audiences will find the good stuff, now or later when you bring it back. the cream rises.
it is a fact.
i liked your post and hope you write more.
it was thought out and provocative without being mean spirited.
no easy task.
bravo for that.

Anonymous said...

i was surprised that in this production of self described "world class" theatre, the off white stage floor was covered with black shoe scuff marks.
for all 3 acts.
it detracted from the pristine beauty of the set.

Anonymous said...

Well, I enjoyed the show, and so did the audience I was in. Not exactly a houseful of subscribers, either; there was a HUGE high school and/or college student population at the show tonight. Maybe some of those kids, who obviously had read the play, will be your future audiences and even acting colleagues, friends.

I've seen some complaining, in the papers and among my Facebook friends, about how much the leads acted out to the audience, rather than "listening to each other" and "making eye contact." Is it possible that they were performing in the style of the theater of the time? Doesn't this plot make you think of the divine silliness of Gilbert & Sullivan without the music? Might be the best way to put this script across, as opposed to something more "natural."

LOVED how much Todd could convey with a simple series of "Yes sir"s. . . .

Anonymous said...

This is my first time blogging on this site and I have read some trashing going on, and I apologize ahead of time but I just thought I had to put this out there..I don't normally do this, but it is terribly annoying

Has anyone tried to buy a subscription over at Portland Center Stage lately for next seasons series? I have a few friends who are currently subscribed and the notice came to them looking horribly compared to other years and when they tried to go online to didn't work. I tried to get one..Good for clients and on their website it says they are "Getting the kinks out..". I clicked on the order form and this years order form popped up. Who is running that place!? The biggest theater in town and they are getting the kinks out?? How bout for $65.00 a show, you get some kinks out!
It seems as if they are always covering up for their own mistakes lately. That Apollo was dreadful!

I am going to subscribe to Third Rail and ART, they have their ACT together.

Anonymous said...

Yeh- what's up at PCS anyway? Bad productions, and bad management. They are always boasting about their quality shows but they have really gone down hill lately. Personally I think they have one narcissist too many running the place.

We went to see Ernest recently. First of all it sucked-it so lacked any depth. Then the Executive Director seemed like he was begging for subscribers which seemed pathetic. We had the same trouble when we tried to get tickets on-line. Their marketing is a joke. What happened?

Anonymous said...

I will never again buy tickets for a show directed by CC. Two strikes and he's out. I don't understand why PCS is willing to put up with this.

Anonymous said...

TWO strikes?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard about the cross gender cast Earnest that is going on (or soon to open)? Someone told me that there is a 1920s, Noel Cowardish production happening soon, with two women as Jack and Algy, and men as Miss Prism and Lady B...No idea where it is or who is doing it, but sounds like a much more interesting take than the standard uninspired PCS mess...

Anonymous said...

Wow, gender swapping. How original.

Scott Palmer said...

Scott Palmer here from Bag&Baggage, and we are doing the 1920s version of Earnest opening on May 7. Yes, gender swapping has been done, but having Patrick Spike as our Lady B is a queen of a whole different kind! Our production is focused completely on the subversive notions of gender inherent in Wilde's play...think Katharine Hepburn as Algernon and Marlene Dietrich as Jack, martini glasses instead of tea cups, and enough super-charged sexual subtext to fill a collected works of Noel Coward...I promise, this one will be different.

followspot said...

Speaking of gender swapping, I found this article interesting - about Singapore's all-male Earnest