|Max Hartman, Jenny Ledel, Martha Harms, and Matt Lyle in Wilde/Earnest.|
"I am sick to death of cleverness," says the character Jack Worthing in Oscar Wilde's 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest. "Everybody is clever nowadays. You can't go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left."
Oh, Jack. Oh, Oscar. We do not lack for fools today. Just look at Congress. And Fashion Police.
Yet we are eyeball-high with cleverness, too. It is the currency of social media (and all other media straining to remain relevant). It is delivered in odd-numbered listicles, late-night monologues and TED talks. Why be smart or serious when being clever gets retweeted?
And it loves the theater. Making a sneak attack, clever stuff onstage can be refreshing. When it announces itself with bright lights and girls on trampolines, however, jump back.
Kitchen Dog Theater's latest production, Wilde/Earnest, cleverly, and somewhat foolishly, tries to one-up Oscar Wilde by updating his viciously witty satire of Victorian mores. Writer-director Lee Trull has deconstructed the original script -- three acts of wickedly funny froth that send up the lifestyles and attitudes of a couple of upper-class twits and their girlfriends -- and downsized it to 95 minutes of frantic silliness. Trull has drenched his version in an overworked awesomesauce of current pop-culture and tech-speak, placing it on Skittle-colored scenery by Rob Wilson, in costumes by Melissa Panzarello so hipster-ugly/chic they deserve their own Portland ZIP code.More »