By Rebekah Weaver
Because the script is so funny, I don’t think it’s possible to find a bad production of The Importance of Being Earnest — but the Sugar Factory Playhouse in West Jordan, UT, still exceeded my expectations. If you need to laugh for two and a half hours straight, make sure to catch this over-the-top absurd play.
Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest first premiered in 1895, making the play well over 100 years old, but it stays around because it’s so, so funny. The plot centers around John Worthing (Anthony VanDongen) and Algernon Moncrieff (Andrew VanDongen), two wealthy young men who use fictional people (a wayward younger brother and an invalid friend, respectively) to escape tiresome social obligations. However, when these two men fall in love with the eligible Gwendolen Fairfax (Tesia Brown) and Cecily Cardew (Stacey Haslam), their lies come back to bite them.
This production is in the historic Pioneer Hall in West Jordan. The venue is small enough to feel intimate, and the sets by Kristen Hickman (also the director) and Amanda Herring are beautiful, but simple, which allows the cast to shine — and shine they do.
I was very impressed with the amount of talent in this small production. The aforementioned leading men and women are excellent, but the supporting cast is just as high-quality. Denise Gull makes a formidable Lady Bracknell, and Heidi Scott and Mark Fotheringham are adorable as Miss Prism and Dr. Chasuble. Not to be overlooked, Scott Herring and Wes Baran give the play a needed dose of down-to-earth practicality as the butlers, Lane and Merriman.
While the cast is impressive, we also need to recognize the director. Hickman had an excellent script to work with, but I think this production’s comedic timing is probably all hers. The costuming by Bri Bedore is also delightful — if I could add Gwendolen’s peacock feather-strewn outfit to my wardrobe, I would.
Finally, some practical considerations: Pioneer Hall’s seating is metal folding chairs, so the Sugar Factory Playhouse suggests you bring your own seating cushions. I wish I had followed that advice, since the play is about two and a half hours long. Make sure to get there early if you can, since seating is first come, first served, and it can be a little difficult to see the stage if you sit in the back of the hall — especially if you’re short.
While the Sugar Factory Playhouse makes a sincere effort to be child-friendly, including putting crayons out for kids to color the programs with, I wouldn’t recommend this play for small children because the play would be so far over their heads. However, the older kids that I saw in the audience looked engaged and amused, so judge your family’s maturity level accordingly.
To sum up: if you love witty dialogue, pointed social satire, and farcical humor, don’t miss The Importance of Being Earnest. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read or seen this play, but the Sugar Factory Playhouse’s production in West Jordan, UT, is such a delight. I can all but guarantee that you’ll love it.
The Sugar Factory Playhouse Presents The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Pioneer Hall (1137 W 7800 S, West Jordan, UT, 84088)
April 12–22, 2018 7:30 PM
Tickets: $5-$8 Buy tickets at the West Jordan Macey’s grocery store or with cash or check at the door.
The Sugar Factory Playhouse Facebook page
The Importance of Being Earnest Facebook event