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

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James Ijames and Chancellor Dean play Algernon and Jack.

Mauckingbird Theatre Company[2] 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[3].


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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