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The Importance of Being Earnest 

Women playing men who love men and women, set in Victorian mansions around the Bay Area

Wednesday, Nov 20 2002
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Woman's Will, the Shakespeare company that brought you all-female versions of Hamlet and Pericles, Prince of Tyre, has shifted to Oscar Wilde long enough to do a strictly female Importance. Wilde might have liked it. His comedy about "Bunburying" -- leading a double life in London society -- works devilishly well with women in the roles of the two male (bisexual) bachelors. Not that Erin Merritt, as Algernon, or Carla Pantoja, as Jack Worthing, play them well: They're both too stiff and faux-snobbish, and so is Rosemary Maciel as the butler. But the idea is good. Phoebe Moyer plays a stupendous Lady Bracknell -- icy, birdlike, in a consistently high Victorian dudgeon -- and Laura Hope is also note-perfect as Gwendolyn Fairfax, Algie's correct but worldly niece. The show as a whole has the amiable energy of a group of people enjoying themselves, and it's set, for good measure, in a variety of Victorian-era mansions around the Bay Area. (I saw it at the Pardee Home in Oakland.) Intermission features cucumber sandwiches, cream puffs, and good black tea, which Wilde would have appreciated.

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