? Audience goes Wilde

By Linda Henley

transcript city editor

Forget the heat, shake off your summertime lethargy, throw a Bunbury at your obligations and take a walk on the Wilde side with Spotlight Theater Company's production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." It's the familiar script we all know and love, but the cast pulls out all the stops to bring Oscar Wilde's wicked wit to the fore.

Spotlight is a new company, "Earnest" being its second show ? the debut was "The Punch and Judy Show" at the Medieval Fair in April ? but the actors are seasoned performers, most of them familiar to local community theater buffs.

Chris Fairchild as Jack "Ernest" Worthing is the very essence of Ernest-ness, earnest and upright even while he's being deceptive, making for delicious interaction with the puckish Algernon "Ernest" Moncrief, played by Joshua S. Maxey. According to the program notes, "Joshua is known for refracting the light around his companions and himself simply by being extremely charming," and seeing his Algernon one can almost believe it. The scenes between these two are some of the best in the play.

Also delightful is the contrast and interaction between their two lady loves, Sara Clark as the Honorable ? and strong-minded ? Gwendolen Fairfax and Katherine Robert- son as sweet, innocent, rogue-besotted Cecily Cardew.

I have never seen anyone have as much fun with the role of the Rev. Canon Cha- suble, D.D., as Ralph Doty. Verily, he oozeth sanctimony from every pore as he delivers his lines in his stained-glass voice, but he's not too saintly to court the virtuous but by no means sinless governess Miss Prism, played by Amanda Clay.

Real-life minister Anna Holloway is memorable as Lady Bracknell, a performance made all the more impressive by the fact that she took over the role at the 11th hour. Also memorable is Les Anderson as Algernon's manservant Lane, a veritable Jeeves as adept at cutting cucumber sandwiches as explaining why there aren't any. Jack's butler Merriman is played by Rebecca Box, a talented high school student we can hope to see more of in future plays.

Directed by Robert Jackson, "The Importance of Being Earnest" continues at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through July 23 in the Frye Auditorium at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $5 to the family friendly show.

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