Perhaps the funniest play by the brilliant Oscar Wilde is THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, now performing at the Crown City Theatre in North Hollywood.

The story features two carefree bachelors, Jack and Algernon, each living a double life. When one discovers what the other one is doing, he sets off to ruin it all. There are also two girls who are in love with these bachelors, and who are obsessed with the idea of marrying someone by the name of Earnest. All sorts of silly things happen before arriving to a rather Shakespearian, happy ending.

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Mouchette van Helsdingen, John Sala / Credit: Chris Greenwell

At Crown City Theatre, the play is directed by Michael J. Marchak. This is a small theater, where every seat is a good one, and where you can really appreciate the craft of the performers. Hans Obma, whose voice has a particular quality that makes him perfect for the part, is Jack. Bobby Slaski plays spoiled young Algernon quite convincingly. They are supported by Riegan Sage as Gwendolen, Megan Cochrane as Cecily, Mouchette van Helsdingen as Miss Prism, John Sala as the reverend, and Will Potter as the butler. In an interesting casting choice, Lady Bracknell is played by Michael Mullen. Lady Bracknell is meant to leave an impression, and Mullen’s performance certainly makes it happen.

Also unique to this production is its intense appetite for English muffins (and, of course, cucumber sandwiches), as the bachelors deliver their wits and retorts out of mouths stuffed with them, which sporadically results in an airborne piece of bread (don’t worry, the sparks don’t reach the audience). It’s actually really funny.

This play is a long one, stretching two and a half hours with two ten-minute intermissions, but it’s quite entertaining and, as you know, time just flies when you’re having fun. Small gripe: the most famous handbag in theater history is here much too small! Only the tiniest of babies could have fit in that bag. I spent way too many minutes coming to that conclusion.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is always fun to watch and this production is no exception. It will perform Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm, through March 31. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at crowncitytheatre.com or by phone at (818) 605-5685. The Crown City Theatre is located at 11031 Camarillo Street in North Hollywood, CA 91602.

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