The Globe Openstage production of The importance of being serious is a delicious blend of classic comedy and modern technology. Shot entirely on Zoom, with each actor appearing in their own “square”, it allows Oscar Wilde’s witty lines to take center stage. Directed by Arielle Seidman-Joria, this free production is a lot of fun.
Megan Fraedrich gives great comedic enthusiasm as Jack, infusing her lines with a mischievous tone. She also plays romance well, declaring her love to Gwendolyn (Sarah Kezman) while mixing it in with humor. During the conversation between Algernon (Edward Myers) and Lady Bracknell (Jane Margulies Kalbfeld), she silently flirts with Kezman, raising a seductive eyebrow. In the act three reveal, she falls to the floor in shock, then extends her arms to embrace Miss Prism (Connie Ramsey).
Edward Myers plays Algernon with a dry, deadpan wit. He makes a hilarious pair with Fraedrich, casually throwing insults and nonsense wonderfully. He takes Cecily’s (Hannah Neville) comedic revelations in stride, using them to pursue his courtship with her.
Sarah Kezman mixes romantic sweetness with comedic timing as Gwendolyn. Her touching remark to Fraedrich, as the hope of their marriage seems impossible, gives a big zinger as she mentions that she plans to get married “several times”. She and Neville are wonderful together, quickly going from best friends to what one audience member called “delightfully venomous” before uniting against the men.
Hannah Neville balances youthful exuberance with Cecily’s humor. His explanation for courting Algernon before meeting him is hilarious. She’s delightful with Kezman as their comedic confusion unfolds.
Jane Margulies Kalbfeld is a hoot as Lady Bracknell, moving swiftly from imperial to charming, while infusing her lines with comedic timing. She retains her aristocratic air throughout, whether it’s scorning Fraedrich for “losing” both parents or admiring Neville as Myers’ potential bride.
Connie Ramsey as Miss Prism and Nicole Godino as Reverend Chasuble convey the humor of the distracted intellectual perfectly. Ramsey’s devotion to Neville as a student is charming, as Neville shows little interest in his studies. Godino is constantly sniffling into a handkerchief, while quickly covering up the romantic interest in Ramsey with classic hints and explanations. Ramsey’s expressions while Kalbfeld questions him are hilarious.
Arielle Seidman-Joria does a great job as a director. The actors work well together, using tricks to create the illusion of all being in the same space, such as passing muffins and shaking hands. At times, the format of watching talking heads can get a bit tiring, but the enthusiastic acting and delightfully clever lines work well to combat that feeling. And for audiences not yet comfortable with in-person performances or unable to attend, an online production is a wonderful boon, while allowing for a larger and more diverse crowd.
Duration: About 2h30 including 1 intermission of 15 minutes.
The importance of being serious broadcast February 24-27, 2022, presented by Globe Openstage for free on Zoom.