Lady Windermere's Fan
Inaugurating a new outdoor summer performance series at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, the site-specific specialists at Chalk Rep take Oscar Wilde's quintessential comedy of manners, Lady Windermere's Fan, out of the drawing room and onto the terraces and landscaped gardens of the English Baroque landmark. Apart from providing an atmospheric backdrop for Wilde's epigrammatic assault on late-Victorian bourgeois respectability, director Jennifer Chang's environmental, modern-dress (courtesy of costumer Halei Parker) staging lends an engaging, naturalistic buffer to the brittleness of the play's 19th-century melodramatic tropes while rooting the wealth of its Wildean bon mots in a soil of contemporary psychological truth. Tess Lina's society-crashing parvenu, the mysterious Mrs. Erlynne, comes underscored with an affecting note of maternal regret. Brian Slaten's hunky cynical roue, Lord Darlington, now not only has the best lines but imbues them with the poignant ache of disappointed romantic yearning. And Owiso Odera and Amielynn Abellera transfuse the problematical archetypes of Lord and Lady Windemere with fresh authenticity, making of them something more than mere moral-absolutist counterparts to the worldly, realistic Darlington and Mrs. Erlynne. The rest of the ensemble fills out Wilde's cast of nitwitted blue bloods with comic aplomb, fashioning this Windemere as a satisfying mix of froth and earnest heart.
Saturdays, Sundays, 6 p.m. Starts: July 27. Continues through Aug. 18, 2013
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