Written by 9:47 pm Anaheim, Review, The Larking House Theatre Company, Theater, Uncategorized

The Importance of Being Earnest @ The Larking House – Review

photo credit: Matthew Hayashi

Written by Patrick Chavis

The Larking House’s version of The Importance of Being Earnest (hereinafter “TIOBE“) maintains much of the wittiness that makes this show a classic and still incredibly funny. Still, as specified in the playbill and the diverse costuming, this timeless version almost wholly removes the satirical underpinnings that make TIOBE so relevant.


TIOBE is the story of a British orphan named Jack Worthing (August Robinson) who has done quite well for himself. He has property in the city and the country.  Jack and his friend Algernon Moncrieff (Coleman Blue Summers) create two personalities: a respectable one that follows all of the rules of polite society and a rule breaker who does what he wants. They make up these characters so they can have more freedom than Victorian society allows. When both men find the love of their lives, their double lives catch up with them.

The original play is set in the 1800s, and Oscar Wilde talks about the rigid class structure of the time. He does this by having what you would call wealthy elites create a loophole. They create secret identities so they can have fun in this stuffy society. It’s funny, the people who are typically considered the most free, aka the rich, in this society are not so free and have to lie to do what they want. Indirectly but satirically, Wilde is making fun of the upper class, the rules they create, and how fragile and arbitrary it all is.


In this version of TIOBE, they remove the time period and change the actors’ clothing from Victorian to all over the place. Jack is wearing a bolo tie and lime green shirt in one scene, so he looks like he might be going to some quirky rodeo. Gwendolen Fairfax (Paige Taylor) looks like she’s dressed from the 1920s. Algernon and Lady Bracknell had some of the most appropriate costuming choices, at least from the main characters. In those cases, the costumes mimicked the characters’ personalities. The fancy cigar jacket fits Algernon’s stuck-up personality quite well.

This version needs to be clarified because by removing any tangible time period and keeping the story the same, they are ignoring many things in the material that are set in a specific time and place. While there are similarities in the class struggle between the rich and poor throughout the centuries, you have to figure out which rich people you are talking about in this play. So at the end of it all, this version retains the funny but sanitizes a good part of the message.


The Larking House usually produces many of their shows from their actual house, and this one was no exception. Instead of housing the production in the garage, they put the show on outside in the backyard. Holding it outside was a nice touch because it’s nice to be out. Summertime is an excellent time for outdoor theatre. There are limitations to putting on a theater in a backyard, but Tony Sanchez’s design gets the job done. The set reminds you of a high society garden party, and the audience is treated to little snacks, as if we are part of the garden party, during intermission.


Overall, the acting from this cast could have been more consistent. Issues with knowing how to receive dialogue were one of the most apparent flaws I noticed.

This was my first time seeing these actors, but I was thoroughly impressed with the acting from Coleman Blue Summers (Algernon Moncrieff) and Rani Alina Shori (Cecily Cardew).

It’s apparent both actors did the preparation work for their characters. Summers Algernon’s performance is hilarious, and Shori’s personality comes through clearly.

The hosts, Sideny Aaron Aptaker and Cherish-Sally Mutua, serenade the audience on a ukulele during intermission.

7.4 Overall
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Set & Design7.5
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Average Show! July 20 – Aug 5, 2023. 

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