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Joint collaboration results in strong production of Oscar Wilde classic

More than a century after its premiere, “The Importance of Being Earnest” still has capacity to delight.
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG Modified: April 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm •  Published: April 10, 2013

A delightful world in which everything has the absurd logic of farce, and everyone plays by the farcical rules of the game, is conjured up in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” a collaboration with Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and Theatre OCU.

Tall, fair and handsome, Hunter Paul's Algernon Moncrieff has a field day expounding the advantages of having an imaginary friend named “Bunbarry” in the country to get out of social obligations in town.

Playing off this comic conceit nicely is Andi Dema as his shorter and darker, but equally well-dressed and cynical friend John Worthing, who attributes all his bad behavior to his fictional brother, “Earnest.”

Complications multiply when Moncrieff chooses to woo his friend's ward Cecily by becoming “Earnest” while “bunbarrying” in the country — just after Worthing decides to kill off his ne'er-do-well, nonexistent brother in Paris.

Matching the men's shenanigans are those of Lauren Thompson as the blonde-curled Cecily, and Renee Lawrence as Gwendolen Fairfax, who is both flirtatious and almost formidable enough to stand up to her mother.

Thompson is hilarious, telling Algernon as “Earnest” they are already engaged, at least in her diary, then teaming up with Lawrence, as they go from instant soul sisters to arch rivals, engaged to the same man (they think).

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