Kenneth Turan's critic's pick: 'The Importance of Being Earnest'
The consummate British stage actor Brian Bedford did not win a Tony for his nominated performance as the redoubtable Lady Bracknell, "a monster without being a myth," but his once-in-a-lifetime turn in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is available to Southern California viewers in an HD presentation recorded at the Broadway engagement.
The delicious artificiality and high-wire verbal pyrotechnics of the Wilde play are supplemented by backstage glimpses and an interview with Bedford, who said of taking the role, "I just played Lear. What do you play after Lear?"
For those who want to do a compare-and-contrast, Anthony Asquith's classic 1952 film version of the play is available on DVD. It stars Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell and has a splendid supporting cast that includes Michael Redgrave, Margaret Rutherford and Joan Greenwood. See both versions and double your pleasure, double your fun.
-- Kenneth Turan
Photo: Sara Topham, David Furr and Brian Bedford in the Broadway production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." Credit: Joan Marcus