The Importance of Being Earnest

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


Through Nov. 30 at the Pardee Home, 672 11th St. (at MLK), Oakland

Continuing through Dec. 8 at mansions in San Rafael, Oakland, and San Francisco

Tickets are $12-25


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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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