by Oscar Wilde
Directed by David Hyde Pierce
Starring Tyne Daly

Williamstown Theatre Festival
June 26-July 14, 413-597-3400

Reviewed by Joel Greenberg


We are familiar with classics like Shakespeare and the Greeks, among others, of resetting their stories in place and time. It seems almost incumbent upon directors and producers to re-imagine how a story-of-old can be framed to connect with a contemporary audience. There is also the daunting challenge of re-interpreting a play such as Hamlet so that audiences sit up, alert and clear-thinking/hearing. The concepts executed are tested against the texts themselves and, in the process, we are able to see and learn whether the retrofit holds together or devolves into window-dressing and little more. The Williamstown Theatre Festival is currently featuring a conceptual approach to Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, and both during its three acts and afterward I was forced to wonder how even one of the many talented hands at work didn’t seem to stop long enough to say, “Let’s take a moment to rethink this thing.”


So misguided and misdirected is this production, that I think it best to say that the play will close, the actors will find other more well-fitting roles, that the creative team will go their separate ways and that the Williamstown Theatre Festival will take a long breath before they again decide to re-imagine what needs no re-imagining. I am no purist, but I find the waste of talent, money and imagination on display a very dispiriting affair, indeed.


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