Review: ‘A Man of No Importance’ Walks on the ‘Wilde’ Side

Avon Players Theatre is wrapping up their 2014-15 season with the musical A Man of No Importance. Based on the 1994 film of the same name starring Albert Finney, I was tempted to watch the movie beforehand to familiarize myself with the story, but decided against it, which proved to be a wise move.

The story takes place in Dublin and centers around theatre-obsessed bus conductor Alfie Byrne played by Dave Springer. No stranger to theatre, by day Springer teaches the subject at Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township; and after a decade-long absence from the stage, he makes an impressive return with this richly-layered role.

The amateur group of thespians that Alfie directs is made up of people on his bus route. To say that Alfie is passionate about theatre, particularly the works Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, is putting it mildly. One morning the beautiful, young Adele Rice (Katie Crombe) steps onto Alfie’s bus and he is convinced that the next play the St. Imelda’s Players should stage is Wilde’s controversial Salome. At first the group is disappointed they won’t be performing The Importance of Being Ernest… again, but Alfie convinces everyone that despite its suggestive subject matter, the play does have Biblical roots.

One person definitely not thrilled with Alfie’s theatre fixation is his longsuffering sister Lily Byrne who, like any good Catholic living in 1960s Ireland, just wants her brother to get married and start a family. Lesa Bydalek, who was last seen as the hysterical Mrs. Peacock in Clue: The Musical, plays Lily with wit and warmth. She’s so determined to see Alfie married off that she even suggests he date the married Mrs. Mary Patrick played by Avon Players’ veteran Lori Smith (Miss Scarlet in Clue; Susan in Big).

As for the play, Act I is lighthearted and humorous until the final scene before intermission, when you can feel the tone turn and suddenly you’re left to wonder what will happen when the curtain rises for Act II. For this very reason I was glad that I had not watched the movie. Instead I was able to enjoy the revealing journey of the struggle between faith and personal desires, and ultimately acceptance that unfolded before me. And while I would recommend seeing this play, please note there are some mature scenes that may not be considered suitable for younger audiences.

Call 248-608-9077 or email Avon Players for more ticket information.

Performance Dates and Times:

Friday, May 29          8 p.m.

Saturday, May 30     8 p.m.

Sunday, May 31        2 p.m.

Friday, June 5           8 p.m.

Saturday, June 6      8 p.m.

About Sarah Hovis

Word manipulator, arts appreciator, sports spectator, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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