By Danielle C. Malka

Arizona Summer Wildcat

It's a play about words, a satire of society's foibles, a hilarious comedy of "manufactured" mistaken identities.

Arizona Repertory Theatre's production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" opens this Wednesday at UA's Marroney Theatre.

Subtitled "A trivial comedy for serious people," "Earnest" rests on a premise so absurd that one cannot help but be drawn into the lives of the characters.

Gwendolyn, the sophisticated society maiden, is in love with Jack Worthing, but she thinks his name is Earnest. Jack's ingenuous niece Cecily is in love with Algernon, who pretends to be Jack's brother and names himself Earnest. Both women have an unexplainable obsession with the name Earnest and swear that they could never love a man by any other name.

"A lot of the fun of the play comes from the fact that these people take so seriously the least important things," said James Elmore, who plays Jack.

"They run right over the important ones," said Carrie Patterson, who plays Gwendolyn.

The witty language makes the play what it is. For this reason, the set and costumes reflect a simple elegance to serve as a backdrop.

The stage floor, designed in a large undulating mosaic pattern, is reminiscent of something from Alice in Wonderland, and the white walls are adorned with the script from the play. Everything is either black, white or gray.

"We've stripped away the colors, so the audience is not distracted from the words," said costume designer Andrea Napier.

The play, directed by Matthew Wiener of The Arizona Theatre Company, will run June 22-26. For more information, contact the UA Fine Arts box office, 621-1162. Read Next Article