The Importance of Eating Earnest
Review By H.G.Welch
Directed by Christine Weems
Obsidian Theater through August 22.
3522 White Oak
Tickets are $15 with open seating
Show up early as parking can be an issue
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The Importance of Eating Earnest by Ben Plopper is fast paced amalgam of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Wright. Set in a British flat during a zombie outbreak, Eating Earnest is a mix of misunderstandings, affairs, blackmail, obliviousness, and zombies. The play is split in half, with the first part owing heavily to Wilde's the Importance of Being Earnest while the second half is very much inspired by Wright's Sean of the Dead. The play's pacing is non-stop and carried by its dialogue until the body count in the second half starts racking up.
The play starts with the worried Laura (played by Megan Nix) complaining to her best friend Catherine (the especially duplicitious Ruth McCleskey) that her husband is having an affair. It quickly becomes obvious that Catherine is the source of the husband's unfaithfulness. Quickly added to the cast is the title character Earnest (played with perfect comic timing by Kamran Taherpour) as a zombie that everyone mistakes for the replacement house boy. Catherine convinces Laura to fake an affair with the flesh craving Earnest, to which she reluctantly agrees. Laura's husband Daniel (Jonathan Moonen) enters as hen pecked by his mistress, and guilt wracked over the whole affair. Rounding out the main cast is Bill (Eddie Rodriquez) Catherine's equally cheating husband.
The first half of the play is driven entirely by the dialogue as the four characters become quick wrapped up in their own lies, with Daniel wanting to end the affair, Laura trying too hard to fake hers, Catherine attempting to keep her going and secret, Bill obliviously giving the wrong advice to anyone who would listen and Earnest being cowed into submission by the forceful women. It can be hard to figure out Laura's plan, at times even she doesn't know, but the factor tying it together is Earnest's constant but mistimed attempts to devour his incognizant house guests.
The second act adds Vivian (Cassandra Austen) as Daniel's secretary, who was invited to the increasingly uncomfortable evening as a ploy by Daniel. Plopper switches gears as the cast completely begins to ignore the obvious zombies in the room as Earnest finally claims his first victim, and the cast quickly dwindles shortly thereafter. The plays moves more towards slapstick comedy as Daniel and Laura unwittingly move out of danger time and time again while discovering the truth behind their relationship.
The Importance of Eating Earnest is a pure self aware comedy, it does not try to make you think about what Earnest truly reflects in today's society, lamp shaded by the fourth wall ignoring narrator (Bryan Maynard). It goes by extremely quickly, in part by the fast paced dialogue in the first act, and the rapidly dwindling cast in the second act. It is a light comedy, with no gore and little language except for the running jokes about Vivian's ample cleavage. While it might not be good for kids, it makes for a rather unique and entertaining evening for a date.
The Importance of Eating Earnest is directed by Christine Weems. It is currently showing at the Obsidian Theater at 3522 White Oak through August 22. Tickets are $15 with open seating. Show up early as parking can be an issue.
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