Mauckingbird Debuts Gender-Bending Take On ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’

The gay-centric theater troupe performs the classic the way Oscar Wilde probably intended it in the first place.

James Ijames and Chancellor Dean play Algernon and Jack.

Mauckingbird Theatre Company returns with an ambitious production of Oscar Wilde’s classic The Importance of Being Earnest that — true to the gay-centric theater group’s fashion — features a quirky queer twist: Heroines Cecily and Gwendolyn will be played by men, and a female actor will portray Dr. Chasuble. That’s as far as the twisting goes, though. There will be no name changes, no men in drag and no to-do made about that fact that, because of the gender-bending, the story will revolve around several same-sex relationships. “That’s the point of the production — to normalize [being gay],” says James Ijames, the Barrymore-nominated actor who’s playing Cecily’s mischievous love interest Algernon. Plus, “The gender-bending illuminates what I think Oscar Wilde intended but wasn’t able to show in his day and time. … Wilde was a gay writer who has suffered from 100-plus years of straight people trying to make [Earnest] straight, and now we’re bringing it back home in a way. It feels right.” 

The Importance of Being Earnest starts tonight and runs through August 25 at Off Broad Street Theater. For more information, including show times and ticket links, go here.

Chancellor Dean and Brent Knobloch as Jack and Gwendolyn.

Brent Knobloch and Dave Hutchison as Gwendolyn and Cecily.

Dave Hutchison and James Ijames as Cecily and Algernon

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