Anne Olsen has loved “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” since she was a student at Snohomish High School.
Olsen, a 2006 graduate, was part of the stage crew when the drama department put on Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy that satirizes Victorian social life. She had auditioned for the role of Gwendolen, one of two female leads, but she didn’t get the part. It didn’t stop her from enjoying the play, though.
“I have such funny memories of watching it and enjoying it,” she said. “This is a show I’ve always wanted to do.”
Olsen will finally get to play Gwendolen when Red Curtain stages “The Importance of Being Earnest” Feb. 28 through March 15 at Red Curtain Theatre in Marysville. The play, directed by Annie Jankovic, follows two men who create alter egos to win the hearts of two women who claim to only love men called Ernest.
Filled with witty Victorian aphorisms, barbed insults and quaint observations about the qualities of telling the truth, the play remains one of Wilde’s greatest achievements. It was also the final play he wrote before his death in 1900.
“The writing is just so good that every time we go through it, I discover something new,” Olsen said. “There are a lot of double entendres about what’s being said and what’s being meant.”
Jack (Lydia O’Day), lives in the country with his ward, Cecily (Karli Reinbold). He has invented a brother, Ernest, as an excuse to leave his dull life behind, woo Gwendolen in London and win over her cautious mother, Lady Bracknell (Jeannine Early).
But, when Jack discovers his best friend Algernon (Keenan Miller) has also been impersonating a man named Ernest to visit Cecily, the two struggle to keep their stories straight.
“The dialogue in this show moves very quickly and constantly keeps you on your toes,” O’Day said. “This play really thrives off of the relationships between the characters and the process of building those relationships within our cast has been a lot of fun.”
O’Day, previously seen as Trisha in Red Curtain’s “Five Women Wear the Same Dress,” said she and director Jankovic don’t see her casting a woman as male character, but rather an actor portraying the character of Jack. His choices, longing for an identity and a person to reciprocate his love are all things that transcend gender, she said.
“Jack is really searching for a place to belong,” she said.
While there are some hefty themes woven into the play, Olsen said “The Importance of Being Earnest” mostly pokes fun at Victorian-era social customs.
“On a surface level, it’s a comedy and is meant to be satirical and not taken seriously,” she said. “But then you have these deeper levels. You can go as deep as you want, whether you’re going for a night of enjoyment or to analyze and think critically about what’s going on.”
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts presents “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” by Oscar Wilde, showing Feb. 28-March 15 at the Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave. Suite J in Marysville.
Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays. General admission is $20 or $17 for seniors, students and military.
Tickets can be purchased at the Red Curtain box office from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, by calling 360-322-7402, or online through Brown Paper Tickets. More at www.redcurtainfoundation.org.