City Paper Review: The Lady may be a little dated, but she’s still lovely
by Michelle Pilecki
Oscar Wilde still speaks to us, in a language we can easily understand. It’s hard to disagree with the judgment of Alan Stanford, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre interim artistic director, who contends Wilde was truly a 20th-century writer, even though he died before the end of 1900.
It’s a bit more difficult, though, to back Stanford’s decision to actually recontextualize Wilde’s 1892 success, Lady Windemere’s Fan, during the years after World War II. Certainly PICT’s visual aesthetics work, and there’s no doubt about the perseverance of the double standard governing the behavior of, and attitudes toward, men and women. But wouldn’t the madcap comedy years of the 1930s — especially those before the reign of Edward VIII and his Mrs. Many Husbands/Lovers — have been more congenial to Windemere’s premise?
Quibbling aside, Stanford directs a masterly interpretation of Wilde’s wit, and his ability to attack the serious with a mix of folly and frivolity. Hypocrisy is the glue that holds Society together. “Goodness” can triumph, while “Evil” hies off to the Continent to enjoy itself. And Mother Love conquers all.
Discover the details of the rather convoluted plot for yourself while enjoying a polished cast in exquisite settings and clothes. Reigning as the questionably wicked Mrs. Erlynne, Nike Doukas portrays every meaning of the word “smart,” from fashion to cleverness and pain. As the true heroine of the play, Doukas dives into harsh memories and ascends levels of bravery, while retaining the character’s superficially facile charm.
Jodi Gage makes for a pettish but pretty Lady Windemere, opposite Leo Marks as her stolid Lord. John DeMita plays a likeable roué who nevertheless nearly destroys the Lord and Lady’s happiness. Martin Giles does “buffoon” so well (that’s not a slam, folks), and also notable in comic roles are Helena Ruoti as a dutiful mother and duchess, and James FitzGerald leading several witty men-about-town. And let’s not forget the inestimable design talents of a product that includes: Michael Thomas Essad, scenery; Joan Markert, costumes; Gianni Downs, production; Cat Wilson, lighting; and Steve Shapiro, sound.
The Lady may be a little dated, but she’s still lovely. Take a sip of a classic cocktail, and enjoy.