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'Earnest' a worthy diversion

The UNM Theatre Department's production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is an enchanting late spring diversion.

Director David Richard Jones and a talented cast revel in Wilde's witty Victorian comedy.

The action centers on the ill-born Jack Worthing's attempts to secure the affections of Miss Gwendolyn Fairfax. Jack's low social status is not his only challenge. When both Gwendolyn and Jack's ward, Cecily Cardew, fall for his alter-ego, Ernest, society rules, feminine hysterics and male blundering take over this light comedy.

Adam Durant rules the stage as Jack's playboy comrade, Algernon Moncrieff. Durant delivers Algernon's witticisms placidly and in character. He masters the delicate art of physical comedy and uses it well in spite of the verbose script. His interpretation of the foppish Brit's eccentric mannerisms is exceptional.

Durant is consistent with Algernon's droning pitch and uses the comedic abilities of his voice to punctuate his lines. his performance stands out in a gifted cast.

Kristen Smith is a pleasure to watch as Gwendolyn's cranky, social-climbing mother, Lady Bracknell. Like Durant, she uses her body and voice to bring out some of the subtle humor in "The Importance of Being Earnest."

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Smith is beautifully consistent as a stooped middle-aged woman. Smith's ability to share the stage with the other actors in spite of her character's domineering lines is remarkable.

Matt Edwards sparkles in his role as Algernon's irreverent manservant Lane. Edwards doesn't cheat a bit, though his lines are few. His actions are carefully chosen and punctuate his character's words well. The banter between Edwards and Durant in the first act is the production's shining moment.

John Malolepsy's set design is an elegant blend of modern lines and Victorian finery. The coloring in particular contributes to the light, yet refined, mood of the play.

"The Importance of Being Earnest" is a fine show - the perfect humorous escape from term papers. Take advantage of the opportunity to see this lovely staging of one of Oscar Wilde's best plays.

The show runs through April 27 at Rodey Theatre. Tickets are $10 general and $6 for students. They are available at the UNM box office.

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