Arts and Entertainment

Vashon's Drama Dock brings 'Importance of Being Earnest' to island

Islanders rehearse the famed Oscar Wilde play. From left to right are Alexander Nicholas, Zoey Rice, Gaye Detzer, Madelaine Ripley, Adam Brock, Kirk Beeler, Chris Ott and Bette Kimmel. - Lillian Ripley photo
Islanders rehearse the famed Oscar Wilde play. From left to right are Alexander Nicholas, Zoey Rice, Gaye Detzer, Madelaine Ripley, Adam Brock, Kirk Beeler, Chris Ott and Bette Kimmel.
— image credit: Lillian Ripley photo

Drama Dock is gearing up to present Oscar Wilde’s elegant farce, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” with performances scheduled for the last two weekends of July at Vashon High School Theater.

Elizabeth Ripley, longtime Vashon resident and professional actress, director and opera singer, has taken the directorial reins of the production, and she is excited to bring her interpretation of the famous play to Vashon audiences.

Comparing her work on the play to “handcrafting a box of fine chocolates,” she promised that the production will be “full of delicious surprises.”

Chief among those surprises is Ripley’s decision to set the play in the 1930s, complete with an Art Deco set. While Wilde set the action of the play in the time it was written — the Victorian age — Ripley’s choice is designed to provide fresh insights into the social satire of the play.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” is one of Wilde’s most familiar works, along with his novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” The play features some of the wittiest epigrams ever uttered on stage and a delightfully convoluted plot hinging on mistaken identities, the sometimes fickle face of true love and the triumph of style over sincerity.

In Drama Dock’s production, Gaye Detzer will star as Lady Bracknell, a formidable matron determined to find a suitable husband for her daughter Gwendolyn, played by Madelaine Ripley.

Also starring are Zoey Rice, as the “excessively pretty” Cecily, and Alexander Nicholas and Adam Brock as the identity-shifting dandies who overcome the pompous pronouncements of Lady Bracknell to woo and win the hearts of the two young ladies.

They will be joined by Drama Dock alums Peter Kreitner, playing Lane, Bette Kimmel in the pivotal role of Miss Prism, Chris Ott as the Reverend Chasbule, and Kirk Beeler as Merriman.

Islanders can look forward to these actors uttering dialogue that includes the quip, “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”

Another of the play’s great lines seems tailor-made for Vashon’s commuter crowd: “When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people.”

— This piece was written by Elizabeth Shepherd, with information provided by Lanora Hackett.

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